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The Libyan League For Human Rights

Thursday, 28 December, 2006
Tel: 00-41-79-742-8470

No to the Death Penalty in Iraq and Everywhere

1. The Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) would like to reiterate its firm opposition to the Death Penalty in all cases indiscriminately and anywhere in the world. We have, ever since, the establishment of LLHR in 1989 consistently defended and worked for its universal abolition in all circumstances and in respect to all crimes committed in time of peace or in time of war. We deeply believe that everyone's right to life is a basic value and that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of this right and for the full recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings.

2. This being said the LLHR is hereby adding its name to those Human rights groups and organizations, including Amnesty, HRW, FIDH, EMHRN and others which denounced the three death penalty sentences pronounced by a “Court” in Baghdad. In turn we denounce the verdict not only because we are against the death penalty as a matter of principle but also particularly in this case because the death penalties came after a trial that did not fulfil the basic requirements for Fair Trial. Human Rights Watch called it a "lost opportunity to give a sense of the rule of law” and Amnesty International described the prosecution as a "shabby affair, marred by serious flaws" This is the least one can say about a trial that was characterized by gross local and US occupation authorities interference in its proceedings and illegal pressure put on judges and defence lawyers amid Baghdad's climate of violence. In the words of Mr. Leandro Despouy, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, "The tribunal has been established during an occupation considered by many as illegal, is composed of judges who have been selected during this occupation, including non Iraqi citizens, and has been mainly financed by the United States,". He concluded by voicing "strong objections" regarding the conduct of the trial and concern about the consequences the verdict may have in Iraq and the wider region.

3. President George W. Bush has been the only “leader” to have praised the death penalty sentences as “an important achievement for Iraq's young democracy”. He is also the only one to have called for immediate hanging of the former Iraqi President and his two aids. No other leader has, at our knowledge, made such an inhuman statement. Mr. Blair, the unconditional ally in the US occupation of Iraq, refused to support the death penalty sentences. He declared: “We are against the death penalty - we're against the death penalty, whether it's Saddam or anybody else,'”. The European Union, which opposes the death penalty, said the former Iraqi leader should not be executed. The 46-member Council of Europe and Finland, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, voiced the same sentiment. Italy's Prime Minister, Mr. Romano Prodi, said he was opposed to the sentence, echoing similar declarations from France, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, and the Vatican.

4. We very much regret Mr. Bush’s precipitous and abrupt request to carry out the sentences immediately which is clearly in contradiction not only with the EU position, but also, most importantly, with that of his closest ally in occupied Iraq; Mr. Blair who refuses the death penalty to be carried out under any circumstance. In fact Mr. Bush ‘s position on the execution of the death penalty sentences pronounced in Baghdad seems to contradict his own position on identical death penalty sentences issued by a Libyan Court in the case of the Libyan children infected with AIDS Virus. On that verdict President Bush rushed, as soon as the death penalty verdict was known to request “the immediate release of the medical team sentenced to the death penalty”. The tone of the statement issued by the White House on the Libyan verdict was threatening as it considers the verdict illegal and reached by a Court that lacks the guarantee to a fair and impartial trial”. This is exactly how authoritative impartial legal and justice experts throughout the word qualify the Bagdad Court that issued the death penalty sentences that Mr. Bush urges their execution without delay. This is a perfect case of “Double Standard” so prejudicial to the cause of Justice and of respect for Human Right. We urge Mr. Bush to be more consistent on the issues of the abominable execution of death penalty sentences be it in US occupied Iraq or elsewhere. The present political dichotomy is not only immoral, it can also erode any margin, whatever thin may be, of credibility Mr. Bush may still have when it comes to fair trial and respect of Human Rights.

27 December 2006

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