The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said he was “appalled” by Iraq hanging 42 people accused of committing acts of terrorism for the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.
The Iraqi government said the condemned, who were executed Sunday at the prison in Nasiriyah, had violated anti-terrorism laws by killing members of the Iraqi security forces, kidnappings and armed robberies, and detonating improvised explosive devices. It was the biggest mass execution this year.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein lashed out at the execution, arguing that “under international law, the death penalty may only be imposed after a strict set of substantive and procedural requirements have been met” and that there was “a clear risk of a gross miscarriage of justice” if the prisoners did not receive due process including legal aid and a full appeals process.
“We can all agree that members of terrorist groups who are proven to have committed serious crimes should be held fully accountable for them,” Zeid said. “However, Iraq’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to impose the death penalty for a wide range of acts does not appear to meet the strict threshold of ‘most serious crimes.’”
“The lack of precise information about the cases is an additional cause for concern,” the commissioner added.
Zeid said he was “extremely concerned” that Iraq might be expediting the death sentences for more prisoners convicted of terror offenses. About 20 percent of the 6,000 prisoners held at Nasiriyah have been sentenced to die.
“This raises the prospect of further violations, as the imposition of a death sentence upon the conclusion of a trial in which fair trial provisions have not been respected constitutes a violation of the right to life,” Zeid said, urging the Iraqi government to “halt all imminent executions and to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.”
At least 84 were killed two weeks ago as ISIS terrorists attacked a Nasiriyah checkpoint and popular restaurant in gun, suicide vest and car bomb attacks.