Iraq’s latest surge: state executions

Samir Goswami writes: In the bloody shadow of Iraq’s recent surge in violence lurks another troubling statistic: this year, Iraq has executed nearly 70 people accused of terrorist-related activities, including 17 men and women last month alone. Let me be clear, the death penalty should be abolished everywhere, including in the United States. Tragically in Iraq, though, it seems the death penalty has become a key component in Baghdad’s counterterrorism strategy.

And the trend is headed in the wrong direction. A recent Amnesty International report showed that in 2012, Iraqi executioners killed at least 129 people, almost twice as many as the previous year, putting Iraq in third place among countries using the death penalty (the United States was fifth, with 43).

With reports showing that more than 1,000 people were killed in sectarian and terrorist attacks in July alone, it is easy to understand why Iraqi authorities might seek desperate measures. But violence thrives where justice, due process, and human rights are denied. Continuing that cycle of violence by executing people only serves to further erode confidence in the government’s ability to protect its citizens, especially when its own institutions do not live up to their own standards.

Simply put, adherence to the rule of law grounded in human rights principles can help prevent violence. This is especially true for fragile governments that are trying to instil confidence in their core governance responsibilities. [Continue reading…]

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