Sunday, November 11, 2012


The Iraqi government just can't stop putting people to death.

As noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012.  Time to add more to that total.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 10 more people were executed today ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian").  Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council."  And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb.  A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed.  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."

October 10th was World Day Against the Death Penalty -- in fact, it was the tenth World Day Against the Death Penalty.  Amnesty International noted some countries were seeing a decrease or halt in executions while other were seeing an increase, "In 2012, Iraq, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Saudi Arabia have actually seen a rise in executions. Almost a third of those executed in Saudi Arabia in 2012 – 65 by early October – were alleged drugs offenders, including many foreign nationals. In Iraq 119 people have been executed this year so far – almost double the known total for all of 2011."  That same day, Human Rights Watch issued "Iraq: Urgent Need for a Death Penalty Moratorium" which included:

“The Iraqi authorities’ insistence on carrying out this outrageous string of executions, while unwilling to reveal all but the barest of information, underlines the opaque and troubling nature of Iraq’s justice system,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than executing people, Iraq should focus on reforming its security and judicial systems to protect its citizens from increasing human rights violations.”
Iraqi officials contend, when challenged about the death penalty, that it is rooted in cultural tradition. But the prevalence of unfair trials and torture in detention, particularly in national security and terrorism-related cases, raises serious concerns and makes the lack of transparency in Iraq’s imposition of the death penalty particularly egregious, Human Rights Watch said.

You may or may not support the death penalty (I don't, you can make up your own mind) but I can't imagine anyone supporting the death penalty when the judicial system does not appear fair.  Iraq relies on 'confessions' obtained under torture.  Those aren't confessions -- those are, "I will say anything to get you to stop hurting me." 

In my ideal world in my head, we would all be against the death penalty.  But we're not and we probably won't be -- at least not anytime soon.  But, again, I think we can all agree that when you are putting someone to death because they have been convicted of a crime, you would like to know that the process of conviction was fair and transparent so that you know the guilty were punished and not the innocent.  But such a claim cannot be made in Iraq.

A judiciary that's fair doesn't, for example, hold a press conference to declare Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi guilty of murder and guilty of threatening of one judge who's sitting on the case.  Not only do they not call a press conference, they certainly don't do so before the trial begins.  But that is what happened in February of this year, a group of judges came forward in a press conference to announce Tareq was guilty.  That's not an impartial judiciary.  

And when they're willing to make such statements in public before the trial's begun, before they've heard any of the evidence, they're not practicing justice.  They may be practicing vengeance or retribution, but it sure isn't justice.
In other violence, Alsumaria notes that a Baghdad roadside bombing has left five people injured and All Iraq News adds that Mosul roadside bombing injured one police officer.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest?  As Jim points out in his note, a number of people worked many hours on a feature re: elections that never was able to be pulled together.  Isaiah was one of those.  So I said, "Take the night off."  Ideally, he'll take the week off (Isaiah used to take several weeks off every year though community members now seem to forget that and expect to do at least one comic here and one comic in each of the newsletters every week).   The e-mail address for this site is