31 January 2012
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Quilliam expresses its alarm that the Iraqi government authorized the execution of thirty-four people in a single day on 19 January 2012.
Quilliam is concerned about this escalation for two reasons –the current Iraqi government depends heavily on the death penalty and executions as a basis to counter terrorism. Since 2004, the Iraqi government has sentenced more than 1200 people to death, and since November 2011 the Iraqi authorities have executed 63 individuals. We also find that Iraqi politics is growing in sectarian strife. Justice must not become a tool to further sectarian interests in an already fragile country.
Quilliam reaffirms that the threat of terrorism in Iraq is both genuine and one of the most serious in the world. However, Quilliam urges the government of Iraq to review its tactics in fighting terrorism.
Last year, Quilliam established direct contact with Libyan prisoners in two different Iraqi prisons as part of our effort to address radicalisation and terror issues. We have since tried to establish contact through official Iraqi channels to raise our concerns, including the representative of the Iraqi Kurdistan government in London. We are yet to be met with a positive response.
Terrorists are responsible for crimes against the Iraqi people and state, however the Iraqi government is responsible for the lack of transparency, the absence of fair trials, and extracting confessions through torture from suspected terrorists.
An increased use of executions, human rights violations, and the use the ‘terrorism’ label to purge political and sectarian opponents has become a threat to the entire political process in Iraq.
What should the Iraqi government do?
Al-Maliki’s government needs to:
1. Proactively include all sectarian and ethnic factions of Iraq in a post-conflict reconciliation process
2. Positively respond to a call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who on January 24th urged the government of Iraq to ‘halt all executions and, as a matter of urgency, review the cases of those individuals currently on death row’
3. Review the philosophy and policy of its counterterrorism strategy
Noman Benotman, senior strategic communications analyst says:
‘This situation raises a key question for the Iraqi government, can they defeat terrorism without sacrificing their Islamic and democratic values and principles? My main concern is that the Iraqi government has adapted a self-defeating strategy to counter terrorism.’
Maajid Nawaz, co-founder and Chairman of Quilliam, says:
‘The Iraqi government’s legitimacy depends on a non-sectarian respect for human rights, democracy and pluralism. We at Quilliam are very worried that neighbouring regional powers are fuelling sectarian tension to further their own interests inside Iraq’