Retaliatory executions do not amount to justice for victims of ‘Islamic State’

29 June 2018, 22:49 UTC

Amnesty International has voiced serious concern over the death sentencing and executions carried out by Iraqi authorities in response to violence perpetrated by the armed group calling itself the  “Islamic State” (IS).

On the morning of Friday 29 June, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Haider Al Abadi announced via his official social media account that 12 individuals had been sentenced to death.  The Iraqi Ministry of Justice subsequently announced that 13 people had been executed on Thursday 28 June, and that this was the second round of executions to have been carried out in 2018.

Iraqi media had noted on Thursday 28 June, that the Prime Minister had called for the swift execution of convicted “terrorists” whose death sentences had been ratified.

The call came in response to extrajudicial executions of members of Iraqi security forces abducted by IS fighters, after a video published by the armed group was circulated earlier in the week. In the video, the group had threatened to execute the men if the Iraqi authorities did not release female prisoners suspected of having links to the armed group.

 “The prime minister’s call for executions is alarming and disheartening.  It is a purely retaliatory reaction.  Resorting to executions to counter violence in the country is misguided; it will not achieve any tangible justice for victims of the ‘Islamic State’.  Only full, impartial and transparent trials according to international conventions can deliver justice to the victims of attacks and crimes by the armed group,” said Razaw Salihy, Iraq Researcher at Amnesty International.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception - regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.”

Iraq has one of the highest rates of death penalty worldwide, and Amnesty International continues to raise concerns regarding unfair trials and the continued use of the death sentence.


Since the end of the military operation to retake areas under IS control, Iraqi courts have sentenced and tried numerous individuals for suspected affiliation with IS despite having non-combat roles with the armed group, such as being cooks or drivers. More recently, human rights organizations have documented and expressed concern about the trial of foreign women with perceived affiliation to the armed group.