World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Amnesty deplores death sentences in Hussein trial

MEDIA RELEASE
News Flash
6th November 2006

Iraq: Amnesty International deplores death sentences in Saddam Hussein trial

Amnesty International deplores the decision of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT) to impose the death sentence on Saddam Hussein and two of his seven co-accused after a trial which was deeply flawed and unfair. The former Iraqi dictator was sentenced today in connection with the killing of 148 people from al-Dujail village after an attempt to assassinate him there in 1982. The trial, which began in October 2005 almost two years after Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces, ended last July. The verdict was originally due to be announced on 16 October but was delayed because the court said it needed more time to review testimony.

The case is now expected to go for appeal before the SICT's Cassation Panel following which, if the verdict were to be upheld, those sentenced to death are to be executed within 30 days.

"This trial should have been a major contribution towards establishing justice and the rule of law in Iraq, and in ensuring truth and accountability for the massive human rights violations perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's rule," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. "In practice, it has been a shabby affair, marred by serious flaws that call into question the capacity of the tribunal, as currently established, to administer justice fairly, in conformity with international standards."

In particular, political interference undermined the independence and impartiality of the court, causing the first presiding judge to resign and blocking the appointment of another, and the court failed to take adequate measures to ensure the protection of witnesses and defence lawyers, three of whom were assassinated during the course of the trial. Saddam Hussein was also denied access to legal counsel for the first year after his arrest, and complaints by his lawyers throughout the trial relating to the proceedings do not appear to have been adequately answered by the tribunal.

"Every accused has a right to a fair trial, whatever the magnitude of the charge against them. This plain fact was routinely ignored through the decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. His overthrow opened the opportunity to restore this basic right and, at the same time, to ensure, fairly, accountability for the crimes of the past. It is an opportunity missed," said Malcolm Smart, "and made worse by the imposition of the death penalty."

Amnesty International will now follow closely the appeal stage, where the evidence as well as the application of the law can be reviewed, and the SICT has therefore an opportunity to redress the flaws of the previous proceedings. However, given the grave nature of these flaws, and the fact that many of them continue to afflict the current trial before the SICT, Amnesty International urges the Iraqi government to seriously consider other options. These could include adding international judges to the tribunal, or referring the case to an international tribunal -- an option indicated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last September.

Saddam Hussein is currently being tried by the SICT, together with six others, on separate charges arising from the so-called Anfal campaign, when thousands of people belonging to Iraq's Kurdish minority were subject to mass killings, torture and other gross abuses in 1988.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Abu Akleh Shooting: Fatal Shot Came From Israeli Forces, Says OHCHR
Israeli forces were behind the fatal shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank - not indiscriminate Palestinian firing - the UN human rights office, OHCHR, alleged on Friday... More>>


Ethiopia: Conflict, Drought, Dwindling Food Support, Threatens Lives Of 20 Million

Hunger is tightening its grip on more than 20 million Ethiopians who are facing conflict in the north, drought in the south and dwindling food and nutrition support beginning next month, the UN food relief agency warned on Thursday... More>>


Euro Med Monitor: Syria Cross-border Aid Mechanism Extension Is Necessary For The Survival Of Millions

Permanent members of the UN Security Council should extend the cross-border aid to northwestern Syria, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said Tuesday in a statement...
More>>



UN Ocean Conference: Opens With Call For Urgent Action To Tackle Ocean Emergency
With climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution exacting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean — critical to food security, economic growth and the environment... More>>

World Vision: Deeply Concerned For Thousands Affected By Afghanistan Quake
World Vision is deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in the wake of a powerful earthquake in the early hours of this morning... More>>



Malaysia: UN Experts Welcome Announcement To Abolish Mandatory Death Penalty

UN human rights experts* today commended an announcement made by the Malaysian government that it will abolish the country’s mandatory death penalty and encouraged Parliament to take concrete steps to pass the agreement into law... More>>