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News ::
Human Rights Watch Criticizes Iraq's Execution of Four Jordanians (english)
23 Mar 2003
In a letter today to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Human Rights Watch expressed its deep concern over the execution of Walid Muhammad Tawfiq Nusseirat, Riziq Bishara Riziq, Sa`id Yusif `Ali al-Doji, and his brother Salah al-Doji. "In stark contrast to the rest of the world, which is moving to abolish the death penalty, Iraq is increasing the number of crimes punishable by death," said Human Rights Watch/Middle East executive director Hanny Megally. Unconfirmed reports indicate that several hundred new executions may have taken place in recent weeks.
Human Rights Watch, which opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, said it was especially troubled by several recent Revolutionary Command Council decrees greatly expanding the number of crimes punishable by death. Among these decrees is Revolutionary Command Council Decree 95/94, which allows for the death penalty in cases involving smuggling vehicles and machinery out of Iraq. Such decrees are in clear violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iraq is a signatory, which clearly states that "[i]n countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes." Many of the decrees also allow for trial by special courts under supervision of the ministries of interior and defense that do not meet minimum fair trial standards specified in the ICCPR.


HRW called on the Iraqi government to release fully information about the trial of the four, including the precise charges and the text of the judgment against them, the court in which they were tried, whether they had full access to defense counsel and the right to call defense witnesses and question prosecution witnesses, the mechanism for appeal to a higher tribunal, as required by international human rights law, and the dates on which such proceedings took place. Human Rights Watch also asked the Iraqi authorities to facilitate the families' request that the bodies be returned to Jordan, to guarantee the safe passage to Jordan of the wives and children of the al-Doji brothers, to investigate the alleged disappearance of the younger al-Doji brother, and to provide information on his whereabouts. "We are concerned about the safety of all the family members remaining in Iraq. If the younger brother is in Iraqi custody, we would like to know the legal basis for his detention, and receive assurances that he can be visited by legal counsel," Megally said.
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