Executions in 2013: min. 778 plus 'thousands' in China

The death penalty in Iraq

Iraq’s use of capital punishment was discontinued by the American transitional management after the fall of Saddam Hussein. In 2004 the death penalty was re-instated by the Iraqi government in an attempt to stop the growing violence throughout the country.  The official explanation was that there was too much violence and the government thought that re-instating the death penalty would help since it would be a deterrent.

When Saddam Hussein was in power, there were 114 different criminal offences that called for capital punishment.  The new law is substantially more restrictive.

Crimes deserving of the death penalty in Iraq are drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, and 'endangerment of the national security'. 

Under the anti-terror law people involved or connected to any terrorist organization can be punished by death.  Even the threat of the use of violence is considered as terrorism, and is punishable by death.

Although the Iraqi government legislated the right to adequate legal representation, many defendants don’t have competent attorneys.  The foreign ministry of the USA wrote in 2007 that defense lawyers were to be provided to every defendant.  Theoretically the defendant is assigned a defense attorney but in practice the defendant rarely has contact with his council before meeting them in court.  The lawyers are there for 'show' and play no essential role in the legal procedure.

According to the Iraqi law, persons under the age of 18 at the time of the offense or over the age of 70 cannot be executed. Pregnant women and women who have given birth within the previous four months, are also exempt from execution.

In capital punishment cases there is an automatic right on appeal. After exhausting all judicial means, Iraqi law requires that death sentences are to be carried out within 30 days.  As a last step an official will hand the prisoner a red card, all legal documents showing just cause for the execution and notification of the soon approaching execution.  

The prisoner has the right to receive a visit of their relatives one day before their execution.

Executions may not be carried out in public and not on public holidays.

The method of execution in Iraq is hanging.  A judge, a public prosecutor (if possible), a representative of the Ministry of the Interior, the prison director, a doctor and if requested the prisoner’s lawyer may be admitted to witness the execution.

Since reintroduction of capital punishment the number of the death sentences and executions has continued to rise.  According to amnesty international at least 199 people were sentenced to death in 2007 and 33 were executed. Last year at least 285 people were sentenced to death and of those 34 were executed.