Thousands of Lives Hang in the Balance
GICJ appeals to the UN regarding executions in Iraq
On 26th August 2016, GICJ wrote to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to express its acute concern regarding the execution of 36 persons on August 21, 2016. This letter is a follow-up to the previous urgent appeal sent on 20th July 2016 about the ratification by the Iraqi President of the new amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code No. 23, as well as to the many others denouncing the abusive use of the capital punishment in Iraq.
With the ratification of the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code and of "a series" of death sentences, Iraq is fully equipped to remain amongst the top 3 executioner states in the world and to compete for the highest position in this deplorable ranking.
GICJ strongly condemns death penalty, in particular whereas it stands on no legal basis whatsoever and it is carried out in grave violation of international human rights law and therefore calls on the Iraqi government to urgently approve the dispatch of an international mission led by the United Nations to investigate all cases of death sentence already carried out and those awaiting implementation in a transparent and just manner in accordance with international standards, in order to avoid that those who are not found guilty will be made guilty.
The Iraqi president Fuad Masum again, rushed to authorize a third batch of death sentences against innocent civilians convicted on terrorism charges and signaled upon relevant authorities for immediate execution. Authorities that often ignore international voices that condemn the death sentence and call for its immediate cease. GICJ views that eliminating political opponents on the basis of ethnicity is the real reason behind the use of erratic execution decrees however, the Iraqi regime continues to use charges of terrorism as a justification of the death sentences in question.
On behalf of a coaliltion of NGOs Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) has sent an urgent appeal to the International community and UN bodies following its appeal from 13 January 2014 in view of the horribly deteriorating human rights situation and the continuous brutal attacks against civilians in the province of al-Anbar/ Iraq.
A Mid-Term implementation assessment reveals that the Iraqi authorities have not yet implemented most of the 179 recommendations that was approved during the Universal Periodic Review of Iraq in 2010.
GICJ continued to follow up on the pressing issue of death penalty by sending information and urgent appeals to UN bodies, including the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. In its letters, GICJ explained one more time that the Iraqi Anti-Terrorism Law No. 13, which commonly serves as legal ground for death sentences, has frequently been criticized for its provision of capital punishment for a wide range of offences that cannot be considered as “most serious crimes” and for its misuse against critics of the regime.
GICJ has sent an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, and called on him to investigate the continuous human rights violations committed by the Iraqi government in the name of combating terrorism. These human rights violations include mass campaigns of arbitrary arrests, disproportional violence against peaceful protesters, lack of fair trials, the retrieval of confessions under torture and finally the political recourse to capital punishment.
GICJ sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations High commissioner for Human Rights and provided further background information on a new wave of executions that was carried out in October 2013 in Iraq, during which 42 people were executed within only two days. In its appeal, GICJ provided further background information on the utmost deficiency of the Iraqi criminal justice system and warned that recent executions might only be the tip of the Iceberg in view of future plans by the Iraqi government to accelerate and even simplify the process of other death sentences.
Geneva International Centre for Justice has sent urgent appeals to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, informing them of a new campaign being undertaken in Iraq by Prime Minister Al-Maliki and his government, and requesting that they investigate the mass human rights violations resulting from the execution of that campaign.
On 22 August 2013, GICJ sent an urgent appeal to Ms. Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in regards to a new wave of executions perpetrated by the Government of Iraq. Despite stout international outcries and condemnation against its practice of executions, on 19 August, 17 prisoners (among them two women) were put to death. This brings the total number of executions for this year to 72 and represents only a fraction of the lives in danger of meeting the same fate.
GICJ strongly condemns the current executions and persistent violation and disregard of human rights, international law and life that the Iraqi government continues to perpetrate with impunity despite continuous calls by the international community for their cessation. We also find it deeply disturbing and unfortunate that the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights not only continues to support the death penalty, but actually encourages its expedition with regards to realization.
Mr. Sabah Al-Mukhtar, President of the Arab Lawyers Association (UK) and Vice-President of Geneva International Centre for Justice talks about the Iraqi justice system, describing it as "not working properly at all" and consistently relying on confessions obtained through torture. He also mentions that human rights abuses are rifle in Iraq.
Geneva International Centre for Justice sent an appeal to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and to the Office of the High Commissioner urging them to take the necessary measures to protect lawyers working in Iraq and pressure the authorities to release those who have been detained for defending suspects before Iraqi courts.
In this short video recorded during the 79th anniversary of the Iraqi Lawyers Union, Nouri Al-Maliki gives a statement in which he directly attacks the independence of lawyers in Iraq, thus threatening the whole judicial system of the country. Geneva International Centre for Justice has sent a Communication to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers on that issue, urging him to report on the situation of the Judicial system in Iraq.