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Further information on UA 83/94 (MDE 14/01/94, 3 March) - Iraq: death penalty: Kabed Sabri Sa'id Shahada, 'Ali 'Issa, Sirwan Hassan, Ghazi 'Abd al-Majid, Qais Latif

, N° d'index: MDE 14/002/1994

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iraq have replied to a letter from Amnesty International sent in December urging the commutation of the death sentences of the above men. In their response they state that the death sentences were passed for drug trafficking. Amnesty International is continuing to call for the death sentences to be commuted.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: MDE 14/02/94
Distr: UA/SC
27 May 1994
Further information on UA 83/94 (MDE 14/01/94, 3 March 1994) - Death Penalty
IRAQ: Kabed Sabri Sa'id Shahada, Jordanian national, aged 28
'Ali 'Issa
Sirwan Hassan
Ghazi 'Abd al-Majid
Qais Latif
Amnesty International has received a reply from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
in Iraq, to a letter sent in December urging that the death sentences passed
on 'Ali 'Issa, Sirwan Hassan, Ghazi 'Abd al-Majid and Qais Latif be commuted.
Amnesty International had drawn attention to world trends to abolish the death
penalty and pointed out that the numerous executions reported each year in
Iraq are not compatible with Iraq's obligations under international law, which
supports the reduction of crimes punishable by death penalty, leading to its
abolition. Moreover they are incompatible with Iraq's obligations as a signatory
to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
In its response the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the death sentences
passed were on the basis of evidence that the defendants had "perpetrated the
most serious of drug-related crimes" (drug-trafficking) and that Iraq's law
on drugs reflects the seriousness of the crime and its effect on society, health
and the economy. The Ministry seeks to justify the imposition of the death
penalty on drug-traffickers by noting that the international community
considers drug-related crimes to be particularly serious and that severe
punishment is called for. The Ministry cited the Convention on Drugs of 1961.
The Iraqi government noted in its letter that Article 6 of the ICCPR, "permits
the death penalty for the most serious crimes" and that this is particularly
applicable to the defendants, who have committed such a serious crime.
In fact, in General Comment 6 on Article 6, the Human Rights Committee has
stated that the expression "most serious crimes" should be read "restrictively
to mean that the death penalty should be a quite exceptional measure".
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading punishment, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes and airmail letters
* either in English or in your own language:
- appealing once again for the commutation of the death sentences against Kabed
Sabri Sa'id Shahada, 'Ali 'Issa, Sirwan Hassan, Ghazi 'Abd al-Majid and Qais
Latif;
- noting that the General Comment 6 on Article 6 of the ICCPR states that the
term "most serious crimes" should be read "restrictively to mean that the death
penalty should be quite an exceptional measure" and that this is not indicated
by the large number of executions carried out in Iraq;
- noting that minor traffickers may be punished while those behind the crimes
may escape punishment;
- noting that a deterrent effect of the death penalty for drug offences has
2
never been clearly established.
APPEALS TO:
1) H.E. President Saddam Hussain
President of the Republic
Presidential Palace
Karadat Mariam
Baghdad, Iraq
Telegrams: President Hussein, Baghdad, Iraq
Telexes: 212299 alqasr ik
Salutation: Your Excellency
2) H.E. Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Baghdad, Iraq
Telegrams: Foreign Affairs Minister al-Sahhaf, Baghdad, Iraq
Telexes: 212201
Salutation: Your Excellency
3) H.E. Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
Baghdad, Iraq
Telegrams: Interior Minister al-Hassan, Baghdad, Iraq
Salutation: Your Excellency
4) H.E. Shabib Lazem al-Maliki
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Baghdad, Iraq
Telegrams: Justice Minister al-Maliki, Baghdad, Iraq
Salutation: Your Excellency
* Regular postal services to Iraq have been suspended since the imposition
of sanctions in 1990. However, it appears that recently postal services to
Iraq have resumed in some countries on a limited basis. Before sending appeals,
please check with the postal services in your country to find out what services
are available. If you cannot write directly to Baghdad, send appeals to Iraq's
diplomatic representative in your country.
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of IRAQ accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 July 1994.

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