Over the course of two days this week the Iraqi government performed mass executions, sentencing 42 prisoners to death. Human Rights groups have decried the acts as barbarous and undermining efforts to restore stability to the conflict torn country. The decision to hold the executions on Thursday, which was World Day Against the Death Penalty, was particularly telling and perverse to certain rights advocates. Iraq’s Justice Ministry said the executed prisoners had been convicted on charges associated with terrorist acts and that the sentences were sound. However, international groups argue that Iraq’s judicial system is far too corrupt and flawed to be able to provide its citizens and those charged with such crimes with a fair trial.
United Nations human rights officials have stated that the integrity of the Iraqi judicial system is suspect and that it has been too tainted to be able to perform fair and legal trials and sentencing. Several cases have been cited where confessions or testimony were coerced with torture or other acts or threats of violence. In such a war torn region the government is quick to quash any criminal act in an effort to regain stability. But violence is on the rise in the country as terror groups and sympathizers continue to launch attacks that include suicide bombers and car bombs. Just recently a bombing in Baghdad took the lives of many civilians. It is understandable then to see why the government might be eager to swiftly handle this rising problem of violence. However if the country is lacking in its judicial integrity and infrastructure all this resorts to is using violence in a half handed effort to stop more violence. The prisoners in question could very well be the victims of political manipulation, scapegoating, favoritism, or other acts of corruption. To execute so many people in one swift action without the proper means to establish speedy and fair trials is an inherently flawed tactic that will only cause the loss of innocence and faith in the justice system as a whole.