From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Iraq | International
Hanging After Flawed Trial Undermines Rule of Law
by Human RIghts Watch (reposted)
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 11:13 AM
(New York, December 30, 2006) – The execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein following a deeply flawed trial for crimes against humanity marks a significant step away from respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today.

Download PDF
Human Rights Watch has for more than 15 years documented the human rights crimes committed by Hussein’s former government, and has campaigned to bring the perpetrators to justice. These crimes include the killing of more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds in Northern Iraq as part of the 1998 Anfal campaign.

“Saddam Hussein was responsible for massive human rights violations, but that can’t justify giving him the death penalty, which is a cruel and inhuman punishment,” said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program.

The Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced Saddam Hussein and two others to death in November for the killing of 148 men and boys from the town of Dujail in 1982. The tribunal’s statute prohibits, contrary to international law, the possibility of commuting a death sentence. It also requires that the execution take place within 30 days of the final appeal.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. Increasingly, governments are abolishing the death penalty in domestic law.

“The test of a government’s commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders,” said Dicker. “History will judge these actions harshly.”

A report issued in November 2006 by Human Rights Watch identified numerous serious flaws in the trial of Hussein for the Dujail executions. The 97-page report, “Judging Dujail: The First Trial Before the Iraqi High Tribunal,” was based on 10 months of observation and dozens of interviews with judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers.

The report found, among other defects, that the Iraqi High Tribunal was undermined from the outset by Iraqi government actions that threatened the independence and perceived impartiality of the court. It outlined serious flaws in the trial, including failures to disclose key evidence to the defense, violations of the defendants’ right to question prosecution witnesses, and the presiding judge’s demonstrations of bias.

Hussein’s defense lawyers had 30 days to file an appeal from the November 5 verdict. However, the trial judgment was only made available to them on November 22, leaving just two weeks to respond. The Appeals Chamber announced its confirmation of the verdict and the death sentence on December 26.

“It defies imagination that the Appeals Chamber could have thoroughly reviewed the 300-page judgment and the defense’s written arguments in less than three weeks’ time,” said Dicker. “The appeals process appears even more flawed than the trial.”

At the time of his hanging, Saddam Hussein and others were on trial for genocide for the 1988 Anfal campaign. The victims, including women, children and the elderly, were selected because they were Kurds who remained on their traditional lands in zones outside of areas controlled by Baghdad. Hussein’s execution will therefore jeopardize the trial of these most serious crimes.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Human Rights Watch
Monday Jan 1st, 2007 4:15 PM
I think it is really a shame that all you guys can do is defend this Iraqi version of Hitler and speak of human rights when he was tried by the people that he commited the crimes of genocide against.Your kind of thinking is exactly what is so frustrating to so many people.I personally have read the communist doctrine and you are definitely playing by their hand book.Why do none of you ever have the guts to sign the garbage you put out personally?Like the ACLU,you just use the organizational name in place of a signature,understandably.Thats much more appropriate for your hit-and-run type of comments.Why don't you worry about the rights of the hundreds of thousands of people that were murdered by Hussein.What about their rights?You and Organizations like yours are anti-American as hell.The word is getting around about all you communist based groups,and sooner or later you will be shown up for what you are.You can take your Republican and Democratic parties that should be using the Hammer and sicle as their logo since they all seem to work for the same people anyhow.You know ,the same people as you all do.You've ruined our school systems,our penal system,our military has been damaged by your bullshit social experiments with our military.Women in the military are useless.Did you know that out of the 3,000 servicemen and women,only a little over a 100 have been women.They carry rifles they don't use,.do not run patrols or do anything the men do except drive occassional trucks
which can be driven by anyone that can drive a car.A marine coming back from there told me the women stay in the rear with the gear,where all the officers are,screw the officers and the get the promotions as the quotas come in,leaving the real troops to go unrewarded for their sacrifices.
This has all been done by Clintons social experiment.As well as all his other accomplishments.Like Giving N.Korea 10 billion dollars to build their nuclear program.Great job Bill,they did it.Then you can't leave out the great job he did giving the Communist Chinese out latest multi-warhead missle technology.Of course he was and is a democrat(Communist)Like the ones that brought us the Vietnam, war,escalated the hell out of it and then tied our hands behind our backs by refusing to hit the real targets,the ships in Haiphong Harbor that were used by the Russians and the Chinese to resupply the Vietnamese.This is actualy a waste of my time.I know that nothing anyone says will make a difference.When you people were formed,something in your genes blocked the part of your brain that determines common sense.You liberals have absolutely none.
And you know interestingly enough.For all your complaining about wars and conflicts,I served with a Marine Recon unit in Vietnam for 19 months and never once ran into a liberal in a combat unit.You guys just couldn't make muster! Have a nice day comrades.