Thursday, March 15, 2007

Human Rights Minister: Iraq wants to abolish death penalty

The death penalty was widely used under Saddam Hussein, and 114 crimes carried the ultimate sanction. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer, suspended capital punishment, declaring that "the former regime used certain provisions of the penal code as a means of oppression, in violation of internationally acknowledged human rights." But the U.S.-appointed interim government revived the death penalty that August for a smaller set of violent crimes, as well as drug trafficking.

The government of Iraq, which was heavily criticised internationally for the way it executed Saddam Hussein, wants to abolish the death penalty, its human rights minister said on Wednesday.

The first step would be to limit capital punishment, which was re-introduced over two years ago to combat spiralling criminal violence, to the most extreme cases such as genocide and crimes against humanity, Wijdan Michael told the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"We are working at the present moment in order to pave the way to eliminate capital punishment in Iraq, after restricting it to the largest possible extent," Michael said, speaking through an interpreter.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

Related Link:
Perspective: Legal justice elusive in Iraq