Saturday, October 12, 2013

Iraq: Executions Don’t Make Iraq Safe

Source: Human Rights Watch

Dispatches: Executions Don’t Make Iraq Safe

by  Erin Evers

Over the last two days, Iraqi officials have executed 42 people, bringing the number of people executed this month alone to 65. Sadly, this is Iraq’s new normal.

In 2012, Iraq executed 129 people, more than double the number in 2011. And this year, as many countries marked the World Day Against the Death Penalty yesterday, Iraq seems intent on beating its own dubious 2012 record with monthly batch executions.

Violence on all sides is sharply escalating, and attacks have killed over 4,950 people so far this year. Earlier this week, a suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives onto a playground, killing 11 children ranging in age from 2 to 18 years old, and injuring more than 100 others.

Security forces have yet to effectively protect civilians from such violence. In fact, security forces have engaged in their own attacks against civilians. Throughout 2013, Human Rights Watch has documented security forces' and judicial officers' ongoing abuse of peaceful protesters and detainees, including women and children, frequently on the basis of the broad provisions of Iraq's Anti-Terrorism Law. Officials rarely hold them responsible.

Executing alleged criminals—meeting violence with violence—isn’t making Iraqis safer. With the country’s criminal justice system in disarray, there is serious doubt that those who receive death sentences are actually guilty.

Iraq’s judicial system is in tatters, riddled with corruption, with courts that mete out arrest warrants and sentences based on coerced confessions and the testimony of secret informants, as Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have documented again and again. In April, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay pronounced the system so "seriously flawed" that it is simply "not functioning.”

With the country plunging ever further into chaos, it’s time Iraq’s authorities take measures to protect Iraqis—through evidence-based investigations and accountability for abuses and corruption in the system—rather than send them to death row.