Deeply troubling reports of 21 executions in Iraq yesterday – Bachelet

GENEVA (17 November 2020) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday said her Office has received credible and "deeply troubling reports" that 21 men reportedly convicted of terrorism-related charges were executed on Monday in Nasiriyah Central Prison, also known as Al Hoot, in Iraq.

"I call on the Iraqi authorities to halt any further executions. I am deeply concerned about the fate of the several hundred prisoners who may be at imminent risk of execution in Iraq," High Commissioner Bachelet said.

"Our assessment of the administration of justice in terrorism-related cases in Iraq has found frequent violations of fair trial rights, ineffective legal representation, overreliance on confessions and frequent allegations of torture or ill-treatment.* In such circumstances, the implementation of the death penalty is of particular concern, and may amount to an arbitrary deprivation of life by the State."

The High Commissioner stressed that the administration of justice is a matter of utmost public concern and underpins a functioning, democratic society. The lack of transparency – there has still been no official confirmation that the executions took place –is "unacceptable," she added.

"The people of Iraq, including the victims of serious human rights violations and abuses, deserve justice. But I fear that these executions may have the effect of compounding injustice," Bachelet said.