Execution of ‘Chemical Ali’ in Iraq criticised

Amnesty International deplores the execution in Baghdad of ‘Ali Hassan al-Majeed, also known as Chemical Ali, for his involvement in one of the worst atrocities committed under the government of Saddam Hussain.

‘Ali Hassan al-Majeed had been sentenced to death for a fourth time on 17 January for ordering a poison gas attack on the town of Halabja in 1988, which killed more than 5,600 members of Iraq’s Kurdish minority, many of them children and women.

He was executed by hanging on Monday following his conviction by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT), which was set up to deal with crimes committed by the former government of Saddam Hussain.

Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed concerns about trial proceedings at the SICT, which have been undermined by political interference and fall far short of international standards for fair trial.

“Despite the enormity of the crimes of which Al Hassan al-Majid was convicted, we deplore his execution and consider it a step backwards,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“In fact, it is only the latest of a mounting number of executions, some of whom did not receive fair trials, in gross violation of human rights.”

The execution of al-Majeed comes at a time when the Iraqi authorities are making increased use of the death penalty. Currently, more than 900 prisoners are reported to be on death row, many of whom could be executed in the near future. Many were sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq after trials that failed to conform to international standards of fair trial.  

Al-Majid had been sentenced to death for genocide and crimes against humanity in three previous trials before the SICT.  

“The execution of Al Hassan al-Majid was long expected and, no doubt, many people who suffered because of the crimes of which he was found guilty will see it as bringing to a close a very sad, a very bad, chapter in Iraq’s history,” said Malcolm Smart.

“However, all executions brutalize society and in Iraq, where killing has become the order of the day, the time has come to say ‘Enough!'”