UN slams efforts of Iraq Prime Minister to accelerate executions

Sunday 31/07/2016
Zeid Ra\'ad Al Hussein to Abadi: Vengeance is not justice

UNITED NATIONS - Given problems with Iraq's judicial system, the premier's efforts to speed up the implementation of executions will only "accelerate injustice", the United Nations said on Monday.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi last month ordered the formation of a committee to identify factors that are delaying the implementation of the death penalty and to make recommendations on how to speed up the process.

"Given the weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system, and the current environment in Iraq, I am gravely concerned that innocent people have been and may continue to be convicted and executed," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

"Fast-tracking executions will only accelerate injustice," Zeid said.

UN monitoring "has revealed a consistent failure to respect due process and fair trial standards, including a reliance on torture to extract confessions", according to the statement.

Iraq has for years faced widespread criticism from diplomats, analysts and human rights groups who have said that, due to a flawed justice system, those being executed are not necessarily guilty of the crimes for which they were sentenced to die.

Following a bombing in Baghdad that killed more than 320 people earlier this month, the justice ministry announced that five people had been put to death in a statement linking the timing of the executions with the blast.

Zeid said that, with Iraqis facing frequent attacks, including by the Islamic State jihadist group, "it becomes all too easy to permit such atrocities to stoke the fires of vengeance".

"But vengeance is not justice," he said.