U.N. Human Rights Chief concerned over mass hanging in Iraq

Sept. 27 (UPI) — The United Nations Human Rights Commission revealed on Wednesday massive concerns over the execution of 42 prisoners in Iraq in one day.

In the biggest mass execution of the year for Iraq on Sept. 24, alleged Sunni militants were hung in the Al Hoot prison in Nasiriyah over carrying out car bombings or killing servicemen.

“I am appalled to learn of the execution of 42 prisoners in a single day,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said. “Under international law, the death penalty may only be imposed after a strict set of substantive and procedural requirements have been met.”

No information had been released regarding the individual cases – a point which the U.N. finds concerning.

Al Hussein is doubtful that procedural requirements, including due process and fair trial guarantees, were met for the 42 cases. If these rights were not met, then the hangings would be a “gross miscarriage of justice.”

The Iraqi government, according to U.N. statement, may be using the death penalty for a range of criminal acts that may not be classified as serious crimes worthy of death. He noted that the death penalty if used at all, should be reserved for those who murder or other forms of intentional killing.

Iraqi officials have noted that the militants executed were part of terror groups like the Islamic State or al-Qaeda and had been charged with killing, kidnapping, and robbery among other charges.

“I urge Iraq to step back from its policy of accelerated or mass executions,” Al Hussein said. “I also urge the authorities to halt all imminent executions and to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.”

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