International pressure on Iraq to stop executions
The increasing use of the death penalty was among the key issues raised at the Universal Periodic Review on human rights in Iraq at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on February 16.
The UK, France and Italy, all supporters of the current Iraqi administration, were critical of the 122 executions carried out in Iraq in the past five years.
France said that at least 79 people were hanged there in 2009 alone. “We remain concerned that Iraq maintains the death penalty and the number of executions has increased in the last 2 years,” British ambassador Peter Gooderham added.
The first recommendation the Human Rights Council made to Iraq at the end of the meeting was to “re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty with the view to abolishing it”.
However, Iraqi minister for human rights Wijdan Salim (pictured in London in 2007) replied that his country was not ready to abandon the death penalty “because of the severity and intensity of terrorist crimes”, arguing that capital punishment was a “deterrent” against terrorism.