Executions thought to start this week
LONDON, March 30, 2009 – More than 100 prisoners in Iraq are facing execution – and some of them are believed to have been convicted of a ‘gay crime’, the UK-based Iraqi-LGBT group revealed this afternoon.
According to Ali Hili of Iraqi-LGBT, the Iraqi authorities plan to start executing them in batches of 20 from this week. There is, said Mr. Hili, at least one member of Iraqi-LGBT who are among those to be put to death.
And the London-based group, which believes that a total of 128 executions are imminent, is calling on the UK Government, international human rights groups and the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva to intervene “with due speed” to prevent “this tragic miscarriage of justice” from going ahead.
“We have information and reports on members of our community whom been arrested and waiting for execution for the crimes of homosexuality,” Mr Hili told UK Gay News.
“Iraqi-LGBT has been a banned from running activities on Iraqi soil,” he revealed, adding that he believes that there could be as many as five convicted and sentenced for belonging to Iraqi-LGBT.
“Raids by the Iraqi police and Ministry of Interior forces cost our group [to the extent of] disappearing and killing of 17 members working for Iraqi-LGBT since 2005.
“The death penalty has been increasing at an alarming rate in Iraq since the new Iraqi regime reintroduced it in August 2004.
“In 2008, at least 285 people were sentenced to death, and at least 34 executed. In 2007 at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 were executed, while in 2006 at least 65 people were put to death.
“The actual figures,” Mr. Hili suggested, “could be much higher as there are no official statistics for the number of prisoners facing execution.”
Iraqi-LGBT is concerned that the Iraqi authorities have not disclosed the identities of those facing imminent execution, stoking fears that many of them may have been sentenced to death after trials that failed to satisfy international standards for fair trial.
Most are likely to have been sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), whose proceedings consistently fall short of international standards for fair trial, Mr. Hili said.
“Allegations of torture are not being investigated adequately or at all by the CCCI. Torture of detainees held by Iraqi security forces remains rife.
“Iraq’s creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases, with the result, we fear, that numerous people have gone to their death after unfair trials.
“The Iraqi government must order an immediate halt to these executions and establish a moratorium on all further executions in Iraq, particularly since due process cannot be guaranteed.
“The state executing people for ‘morals’ crimes is also obviously unacceptable and deplorable,” he said.
Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to make public all information pertaining to the 128 people, including their full names, details of the charges against them, the dates of their arrest, trial and appeal and their current places of detention.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a promise that the persecution of gays and lesbians around the globe wouldn't be ignored by the Obama administration.
“Human rights is and always will be one of the pillars of our foreign policy,” she said in Brussels when visiting the European Parliament.
“And in particular, the persecution and discrimination against gays and lesbians is something that we take very seriously. It is terribly unfortunate that right now in unfortunately many places in the world violence against gays and lesbians, certainly discrimination and prejudice are not just occurring but condoned and protected.
“And we would hope that over the next few years we could have some influence in trying to change those attitudes.”
■ The immediate urgent priority is to both support and donate money to LGBT activists in Iraq in order to assist their efforts to help other LGBT Iraqi people facing death, persecution and systematic targeting by the Iraqi Police and Badr and Sadr Militia – and to raise awareness about the wave of homophobic murders in Iraq to the outside world.
Funds raised will also help provide LGBTs under threat of killing with refuge in the safer parts of Iraq (including safe houses, food, electricity, medical help) and assist efforts help them seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Click on the Iraqi-LGBT logo below for details on how to help.
Apr 6: Member of Iraqi Gay Group Pleads for Help “Before It’s Too Late”. Is there anyone to help me before it’s too late? That is the question asked by a member of Iraqi-LGBT in Baghdad, who says he is to be executed, in a letter released at the weekend by Iraqi-LGBT in London.