Dreams that the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime would see the end of torture and killings in Iraq have “all but faded to nothing”, with more than 1,000 prisoners still facing the death penalty, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The human rights organisation said the country's “ramshackle justice system can barely cope with ordinary crimes, never mind capital offences”.
It called for an “immediate moratorium” on all executions and said hundreds of people were still facing “a grisly death at the end of a rope”.
Amnesty said Saddam's execution in December 2006, filmed and widely circulated on the internet, was a “graphic reminder of the grotesque brutality” of his regime.
“Many Iraqis who had been traumatised by his policies hoped, and expected, that a new chapter would be opened, in which human rights would be respected and |upheld and that torture, killings and the death penalty would remain only as a bad memory of the past,” it said.
“Six years on (from the fall of the regime in 2003), as an estimated 1,000 prisoners face the prospect of execution, that dream has all but faded to nothing.”
Amnesty said the Iraqi government had widened both the scope and application of the death penalty since it was restored in August 2004, and the punishment could be used for “a wide range of offences”, from murder to the support of armed groups.
Of the more than 1,000 prisoners facing the death penalty in Iraq, 150 have exhausted all means of appeal or clemency.