Thursday, April 13, 2006
BAGHDAD, Apr 13 (IPS) - The execution of 13 suspected insurgents in March marked a revival of the death penalty in Iraq - and sparked a debate among Iraqis about whether capital punishment should be written into the laws of a modern society.
The death penalty was suspended by the US when it took control of Iraq 2003. The nation’s new government, however, reinstated it two years later, stating that the death penalty will be a deterrent to criminals in Iraq. Still, many Iraqis on the street say they are not convinced of that argument.
Most Iraqis, war-weary, make no distinction between executions under the newly-elected government and those carried out under Saddam Hussein.
“In Saddam’s time and in all times the death penalty is not good. There is no justice and sometimes innocent people are killed without good reason,” Baghdad resident Omar Abdul Aziz told IPS.
Others favour capital punishment but question how it should be applied - especially to insurgents. “The Iraqi government calls Iraqis who resist the occupation ‘insurgents,’ and this is the problem because they are not insurgents but freedom fighters. We should give them rewards, not use the death penalty against them,” said Zuhair Hasan, a 38 year-old veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, in the 1980s.Violence Driving People Out
At least 30,000 Iraqis have been displaced from their homes since then, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says.
The IOM, a leading international organisation that works on migration issues closely with United Nations agencies, says the number of fleeing refugees is increasing as more people begin to feel unsettled by the violence. The IOM estimate is in line with that of Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration.
But this is only an official estimate. Many believe the number is far larger.