[JURIST] The Iraq Ministry of Justice [official website, in Arabic] announced on Tuesday the execution of 26 Iraqi nationals for terrorism related offenses. A statement from the Ministry website said the executions [BBC report] took place on Sunday. Human rights groups have long opposed the use of capital punishment in Iraq and the overarching legal system employed in the country, where reports of torture and forced confessions have surfaced. According to an annual report [2014 world report] on Iraq by the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], Iraq executed at least 151 people in 2013, up from 129 in 2012, and 68 in 2011. According to the report, up to 48 criminal offenses are subject to the death penalty under Iraqi law. Iraqi officials defend capital punishment on the grounds it is sanctioned by Islam and it is an effective way to curb violence in the country.
Authorities in Iraq have led a significant crackdown on alleged domestic terrorists in recent months and the treatment of prisoners continues to bring concern from major international groups. In December Iraqi police arrested [JURIST report] a prominent supporter of anti-government protests and charged him with terrorism offenses. Earlier in December, UN rights experts urged [JURIST report] Iraq to provide information on the whereabouts of seven prisoners who were reportedly abducted following the massacre at Camp Ashraf in September. Last October Iraq officials executed [JURIST report] 42 people convicted of terrorism charges. Despite a condemnation [JURIST report] from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pallay [UN backgrounder] last April, criminal executions in Iraq show no signs of stopping. JURIST Columnist Haider Ala Hamoudi of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law argues [JURIST op-ed] that as Iraq's new government matures the country must address critical issues left ambiguous in the initial constitution and the execution style killings demand urgent attention.