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Concerns over court proceedings as Iraq executes 21 people in a day

Iraq has executed 21 people convicted of terror-related charges, including three women, on the same day, a spokesman said today, bringing the number of people executed so far this year to 91.

Baghdad // Iraq has executed 21 people convicted of terror-related charges, including three women, on the same day, a spokesman said today, bringing the number of people executed so far this year to 91.

The executions come despite a call from the UN's human rights chief for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iraq, amid concerns over the lack of transparency in court proceedings.

"The justice ministry carried out 21 executions against those condemned of terrorist charges, including three women terrorists," Haidar Al Saadi said in a text message. He did not give any further details.

A justice ministry official said the executions were carried out yesterday morning.

Iraq has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were executed on January 31.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed shock earlier this year at the number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.

"Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day," she said in January.

Pillay voiced concern over a "lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq."

In June, Amnesty International also condemned the "alarming" increase in executions in Iraq.

It also called on authorities to "refrain from using the death penalty, commute the sentences of all those on death row, believed to number several hundred, and declare a moratorium on executions."

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