[JURIST] The Iraq Central Criminal Court [Wikipedia backgrounder] handed down 16 death sentences Thursday, the latest such sentences in a country with the fourth highest execution rate in the world [JURIST report]. Two of those sentenced were non-Iraqi Arabs arrested earlier this year for entering the country illegally and for engaging in terrorist activities. Nine Iraqis were sentenced for kidnapping and torturing, while four were sentenced for involvement in terrorist activities, including conspiring to kill an Iraqi doctor. One Iraqi was sentenced to death for leading the Ansar Al-Sunna [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] insurgent group and for his involvement in attacks against Iraqi authorities.
On Tuesday, a UN rights expert urged Iraq to suspend the death penalty [JURIST report], saying that the use of capital punishment violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [texts]. The death penalty in Iraq was reinstated in 2004 after being suspended by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority following the fall of Saddam's regime after the 2003 US invasion. In April, Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] that more than 270 people have been sentenced to death in Iraq since 2005, and more than 100 have actually been executed. Iraqi officials have consistently dismissed criticisms of the country's use of capital punishment, saying that the death penalty is a fundamental component of implementing Islamic law. KUNA has more.