Treatment of Torture in the Penal Code No. 111 of 1969

We are fortunate that Professor Wasfi al-Sharaa of Basra University has permitted us to publish his research paper on the treatment of Torture in the Penal Code No. 111 of 1969.

Article 333 of the Penal Code states:
Any public official or agent who tortures or orders the torture of an accused, witness or informant in order to compel him to confess to the commission of an offence or to make a statement or provide information about such offence or to withhold information or to give a particular opinion in respect of it is punishable by imprisonment or by penal servitude. Torture shall include the use of force or menaces.

Article 218 of the Criminal Procedure Code states:
It is stipulated that a confession must not have been extracted by coercion.

Article 218 was amended by CPA Memorandum 3, Section 4(k), signed 18 June 2003, published in the Official Gazette, issue 3978 of 17 August 2003 in that the following words at the end of the Article were deleted “whether it be physical or moral, a promise or a threat. Nevertheless, if there is no causal link between the coercion and the confession or if the confession is corroborated by other evidence which convinces the court that it is true or which has led to uncovering a certain truth, then the court may accept it”.

Professor Wasfi exposes the lack of clarity in this area; proposes that the law be reformed to ensure that confession evidence shall be deemed null and void if it is derived from coercion; and argues that the punishment for those convicted of torture be increased from a minimum of 3 months to a minimum of 3 years.