PRESENTATION OF THE DEATH PENALTY WORLDWIDE
at the EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Tuesday 27 November 2012
Iraqi Turkmen Front EU representative Dr Hassan Aydinli with Ms Elisabetta Zamparutti, Member of the Italian Parliament and 'Hands Off Cain' Treasurer
With Member of European Parliament Krisztina MORVAI
The Meeting was chaired by Mr. Struan Stevenson, Chairman of the Delegation for the relations with Iraq.
In his opening remarks MEP Struan Stevenson deplored the fact that in 2012 Iraq has come in third in the bid for the highest number of executions, along with China and Iran. He said that the EU is totally opposed to the Death Penalty. He also deplored the fact that in Iraq the Judiciary is controlled by the Executive. He said he did not want to be accused of neocolonialism, as he has been accused in Iraq in the past, but that he cannot accept that Iraq is the second most corrupt country after Somalia.
He said that the EU is in the process of finalizing the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Iraq and that Iraq has to foster EU values. He said that there is deterioration in all zones and that Iran has undue influence in Iraq, that Iraq is a 'satellite of Iran'.
The Chair then gave the floor to Ms. Elisabetta Zamparutti, Member of the Italian Parliament and 'Hands Off Cain' Treasurer.
Ms. Elisabetta Zamparutti presented the Hands Off Cain 2012 Report on The Death Penalty Worldwide.
Hereunder are some of the topics mentioned in the 280-page Report:
Abolition, De Facto Abolition and Moratoriums
The worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty by law and de facto of the last ten years was reaffirmed in 2011 and in the first six months of 2012.
After 2010, when 2 countries became total or de facto abolitionist, another 3 joined the list in 2011 and the first six months of 2012.
- As of April 2011, Guinea has gone more than ten years without practising the death penalty, establishing itself as de facto abolitionist Country.
- In January 2012, Latvia abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
- In March 2012, Mongolia ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) concerning the abolition of the death penalty.
- In the United States, the State of Connecticut abolished the death penalty in April 2012, and Illinois abolished it in March 2011. In Oregon, the Governor declared a moratorium on all executions in November 2011.
Reintroduction of the Death Penalty and Resumption of Executions
Regarding steps backwards, in 2011 and in the first six months of 2012, 4 Countries resumed executions: Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates in 2011; Botswana and Japan in 2012.
In the United States, Idaho with one execution in 2011 and one in 2012, resumed executions after a 17 years de facto moratorium dating back to 1994.
In February 2011, in Trinidad and Tobago, an amendment to the Constitution to speed up executions, was defeated in Parliament.
One of the world's top executioners.
The death penalty can be imposed in Iraq for around 48 crimes, including a number of non-fatal crimes such as - under certain circumstances - damage to public property.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein on 9 April 2003, the death penalty was suspended by the Provisional Authority of the Coalition. It was reintroduced after the transfer of power to Iraqi authorities on June 28 2004. On 8th August, a little more than a month after it came to power, the Iraqi interim government, led by Iyad Allawi, approved a law that reintroduced the death penalty for homicide, kidnapping, rape and drug-trafficking.
On 30th May 2010, the Iraqi Council of Ministers extended the application of the death penalty for economic crimes to the stealing of electricity.
Ratifying the death sentence is one of the prerogatives of Iraq's head of State, as stipulated in article 73 of the constitution.
The current president, Jalal Talabani, has always spoken out against the fact that his country uses the death penalty, stressing it was time to turn the page on Iraq's history of capital punishment. "I think that the page of executions needs to be turned, except concerning the crimes committed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and crimes against Shiite pilgrims and holy sites" Talabani said. The president, who was reappointed in November 2010 in a power-sharing pact that ended more than eight months of political paralysis, during his first term, declined to confirm some court execution orders but without preventing the hangings going ahead as the two Vice-Presidents at the time, a Shiite and a Sunni, were able to authorize them in his place. But their mandate has not be renewed.
On 13 June 2011, President Talabani appointed his first deputy minister Khudayr al-Khuzai to sign death penalty verdicts and, on 19th August, he appointed his second deputy minister Tareq Al-Hashemi to do the same.
Executions began in August 2005, after Iraq lifted the moratorium on the death penalty established in 2003 by the Provisional Authority of the Coalition. Since then and until 7 June 2012, at least 413 executions were carried out, most of them related to acts of terrorism.
In 2011, Iraq executed at least 68 people, including three foreigners and three Iraqi women, four times more than the 17 people executed in 2010.
In September 2011, Abdelsattar Birakdar, the Higher Judicial Council spokesperson, reportedly stated that 338 death sentences had been issued in 2011.
As of 31 December 2011, at least 1.300 people were on death row, according to Amnesty International.
Iraq has already executed at least 70 people in 2012 (as of 7 June).
On 19 January 2012, 34 people, including two women and a Syrian, were executed early in the morning for terrorism-related offences, announced the Iraqi State-owned Al-Iraqiya TV Channel, quoting a statement by the Ministry of Justice.
On 24 January 2012, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed shock at Iraq's execution of 34 people in a single day and called on the country to institute an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty. "Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day" Navi Pillay stated in a news release.
"Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure" she added. The High Commissioner also urged the Government "to halt all executions and, as a matter of urgency, review the cases of those individuals currently on death row". "Most disturbingly" said Ms Pillay, "we do not have a single report of anyone on death row being pardoned, despite the fact there are well documented cases of confessions being extracted under duress".
On 27 January 2012, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton expressed concern about the increasing use of the death penalty in Iraq. "The increase in executions in the last months clearly goes against the worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty" she said in a statement.
The EU called on Iraq to cease carrying out executions and to introduce a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view to its abolition. The 27-member European bloc urged Iraq to adhere to minimum international standards for the use of the death penalty. "The death penalty should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, and in the case of clear and compelling evidence. It should never be used in cases where convictions were based on confessions that may have been coerced, and an effective right to appeal must be ensured", added the statement.
On 31 January 2012, Iraq executed 17 men in one day, the justice ministry said, adding that the accused had been convicted of terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder.
On 7 February 2012, 14 people were executed, most of them Al-Qaeda members, a senior justice ministry official said.
On 20 February 2012, four people, two of them convicted of terrorism-related charges and the others convicted of murder and kidnapping, were hanged in the morning. All four were Iraqis, the official said.
On 4 April 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he was "concerned by the continued and increased implementation of the death penalty" in Iraq. "I urge the Iraqi authorities to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty" he said.
Haidar al-Saadi, the spokesman for the Iraqi Justice Ministry, said the death penalty is the best way for the Iraqi Government to ease the suffering of the victims' families. "The criminals in Iraq are not like the ones in Switzerland or other European Union countries or any others" he said. "Iraq today is facing the most dangerous terrorists in the world".
On 7 June 2012, Saddam Hussein's trusted personal secretary, Abed Hamid Hamoud, was executed by hanging, the Justice Ministry said.
Deep concern is expressed for the fate of both Tareq Aziz and Sadoun Shakir who were sentenced at the same Court hearing.
The Death Penalty under Nouri al-Maliki, an echo of Saddamite Baathist Terror.
The hangings are carried out regularly from a wooden gallows in a small, cramped cell of al-Kadhimiya Prison, in Saddam Hussein's old intelligence headquarters at Kadhimiya, a Shia district of Baghdad.
On 30 December 2006, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was hanged for crimes against humanity in the same 'secure' unit at Kadhimiya where Nouri al-Maliki's people, in an echo of Saddamite Baathist terror, now hang their victims.
Top Secret Death
The death penalty has been in force in the Iraqi legal system since 1921, following the foundation of the Iraqi State. Its field of application had been increasingly extended since the taking of power by the Baath party in 1968 and since 1979, the year marking the beginning of Saddam Hussein's presidency.
Saddam's sons Uday and Quasay reportedly signed around 10,000 execution orders.
From 1998 to 2001, 4,000 people were executed according to a report presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights by the Special Rapporteur on Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis, on 1 April 2002.
Between 27 and 29 August 2012, Iraq executed 26 people convicted of terror-related charges, including a Saudi, a Syrian and three Iraqi women. The executions were announced with no details about the names or trials of those who were killed, drawing widespread international denunciation. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, investigator on arbitrary executions, described the government-sanctioned executions as "arbitrary killings" that is "committed behind a smokescreen of flawed legal processes". He warned that the "continued lack of transparency about the implementation of the death penalty in Iraq, and the country's recent record, raise serious concerns about the question of what to expect in the future."
MEP Struan Stevenson thanked Ms Elisabetta Zamparutti for her very moving report. He said that on 3rd December 2012 the EU will be voting in AFET and that the 500 million EU citizens who represent a huge market cannot accept that their money be handed to a country where so many executions are taking place. He said that the 27 European states can use their economic powers.
The Chairman added : "We are saying strongly to Iraq: Think again and call for a moratorium".
MEP Struan Stevenson expressed his deep concern about the situation in Syria, saying that Iraq and Iran support Bashar al-Assad and he added that the EU must convince China and Russia to change their position on the pariah country.
The Chair gave the floor to a member of the Iraqi Embassy, who declared that the death penalty in Iraq is only used in cases of terrorism, adding that one cannot compare the situation in Iraq with that of other countries.
The Chair then gave the floor to MEP Krisztina Morvai, who asked what concrete steps the EU is taking to condemn and put pressure on Israel to stop summary executions of Palestinians and on the U.S. who are using drones which are causing so many deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Chair then gave the floor to Dr. Hassan Aydinli ITF EU Representative, who said : "It is a fact that the number of executions in Iraq is high, but one should take into consideration the actual unstable situation in Iraq and the great number of innocent civilians who are victims of terrorists; every day scores of civilians are killed and hundreds are wounded in terrorist attacks in Iraq. He asked: "In the case of Iraq where so many acts of terrorism are taking place, what punishment do you recommend to replace the death penalty for the perpetrators of acts of terrorism?". Ms. Zamparutti answered that the death penalty should never be applied, that it should be replaced by a 30-year prison sentence.
Afterwards, the Chair gave the floor to one of the members of the Mujahideen al-Khalk delegation (visiting Brussels to lobby for their cause) who complained about the situation of the Iranian refugees of Camp Liberty (formerly camp Ashraf).
To conclude MEP Struan Stevenson asked: "Why is the Iraqi Government spending over 4 billion U.S. Dollars to buy arms from Russia, while the majority of the Iraqi people do not have fresh water, only have 5 hours of electricity a day and no sewage system?"
He called on the Iraqi Government to stop murdering people and to respect the rule of law. Mr. Struan Stevenson repeated once more that the death penalty is not acceptable in any circumstances.
At the end of the Meeting Dr. Hassan Aydinli spoke with MEP Struan Stevenson and Member of the Italian Parliament Ms. Elisabetta Zamparutti, he informed them about the continued targeting of Turkmens in Iraq, giving them the example of the terrorist attacks on 7th September 2012 in Kerkuk, where 3 simultaneous bomb attacks took place at the car parks of Turkmen mosques and Husseynias at the time when worshippers were leaving the mosques after Friday prayers. He told them that his 44-year old nephew Ali Djellil and his 12-year old son Haider Ali were among the victims at one of the mosques. He said that his nephew Ali Djellil has never been involved in any political activity, he had a shop and was the only breadwinner of his family, he left a widow and 5 young children (age 2 to 16). Dr Aydinli added :"Try and put yourself in the situation of this unfortunate widow and the 5 children who are left without protection and income, what will be the future of this family? "
Ms. Zamparutti presented a copy of the book "Hands Off Cain" The Death Penalty Worldwide 2012 Report to Dr. Aydinli.
Notes: Hands off Cain (HOC) was founded in Brussels in 1993 by the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, it is a league of citizens and parliamentarians for the Universal Moratorium on Executions; the name "Hands Off Cain" is inspired by the book of Genesis, which includes not only the phrase "an eye for an eye" but also "And the Lord set a sign upon Cain, lest any finding him should smite him". Its objective was to obtain a Moratorium on executions in the world, in view of the definitive abolition of the death penalty.