Capital Punishment: UPDATED

Posted on | April 12, 2009

The Penal Code 111 of 1969 provides in Article 86 that “The death penalty is the hanging of the condemned person by the neck until he is dead.” It can only be imposed if the perpetrator is 21 or over.
Prior to 2003, the Penal Code provided that the death penalty was the sentence or maximum sentence for a range of crimes including a large number of crimes against the external or internal security of the state, murder of the president, intentional arson, flooding, contamination or interference with mean of transport resulting in death, child incest, murder, kidnap involving rape, some theft, burglary, highway robbery, and armed robbery.
Articles 130 and 132(1) deal with mitigation capable of reducing a sentence of capital punishment to one of imprisonment. Articles 135 and 136 deal with aggravating features that can result in the increase of a sentence of life imprisonment to one of capital punishment.
CPA Order 7 Section 3(1) suspended the operation of capital punishment with effect from 10 June 2003 replacing it with life imprisonment. Capital punishment was re-introduced by the Interim Government on 8 August 2004 by Decree Number 3, published in the Official Gazette, issue 3987 of September 2004, for the following crimes:
• crimes against the internal security of the state (Articles 190 to 197) including drug trafficking with the aim of financing or abetting the overthrow of the government by force
• crimes involving flooding or the use of bacteriological materials (Articles 349 and 351(1))
• crimes relating to attacking transport systems (Articles 354 and 355)
• premeditated murder (Article 406)
• kidnapping (Articles 421, 422 and 423) which had not previously carried capital punishment unless rape or death was involved
Article 285(b) and 286 of the Criminal Procedure Code were amended in that the death penalty will be implemented only after being approved by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the Presidency Council.
Any persons sentenced to death prior to Decree Number 3 coming into effect had their sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

Article 136(1) of the Penal Code still operates to permit a court to increase a sentence of life imprisonment to one of the death penalty in the presence of aggravating features.

In addition, the death penalty is applied by the following statutes:
• the Statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT), Law 10 of 2005 (promulgated on 18 October 2005) which specifically does not include a right to seek a pardon or commutation of sentence
• the Anti Terrorism Law of 7 November 2005 (Transitional Government Law Number 13 of 2005)
• the Anti Terrorism Law of the Kurdish Region of Iraq of 16 July 2006 (Law Number 3 of 2006)
• the Military Penal Law No. 19 of 2007
• the Internal Security Forces Penal Law No. 14 of 2008
The Military and Internal Security Forces laws provide for death by firing squad rather than hanging.

UPDATE: 12 people were executed on 3 May 2009 in the first executions to take place in 18 months. A reported 115 people are still on death row.
UPDATE: On 1 September 2009 Amnesty International published a report on the death penalty in Iraq
UPDATE: On 2 November 2009 al-Azzaman reported that ‘1,000 Iraqi detainees risk execution as premier rules out clemency
UPDATE: On 19 February 2010 Fox News reported that Iraq had told the UN Human Rights Council that it would not abolish the death penalty