Iraqi police forces on Friday alleged al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] is responsible for the bodies of 18 men found who had been abducted and shot in the head. The victims were taken from their houses [Reuters report] early on Friday morning by men in military uniforms, and among the dead are a police officer, an army official, a school headmaster, a Sunni sheikh and his son. A senior police official believed al Qaeda was involved because the group had been operating in the area where the bodies were located. Police officers also found an additional seven decapitated male bodies from a separate attack farther north. Although the police are unsure who was behind the deaths, security officials have indicated that al Qaeda is also active in that area.
Iraq has been receiving press lately for human rights issues. Iraqi authorities in October announced [JURIST report] the execution of 42 people convicted on terrorism charges. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] in April condemned Iraq's execution of 21 prisoners [JURIST reports] convicted of terrorism earlier that month, urging the country's compliance with international human rights obligations. Also in April Iraq announced plans to reform [JURIST report] its de-Baathification laws to allow former members of Saddam Hussein's regime to serve in the public sector. De-Baathification is a controversial subject that should be approached with caution [JURIST op-ed], according to a JURIST op-ed by Professor Haider Ala Hamoudi. In February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized [JURIST report] Iraq for detaining and persecuting journalists.