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Iraq executes dozens of terrorism convicts despite international criticism

Iraqi authorities have announced the execution of 42 people convicted on terrorism charges. The executions were carried out despite international pressure for Baghdad to put a moratorium on capital punishment.

Iraq's Justice Ministry on Thursday defended the executions, claiming that they had been appealed "more than one time" and that appellate judges had reviewed the accuracy of the verdicts.

According to the ministry, all 42 inmates had been convicted of "terrorism crimes, killing dozens of innocents in addition to other crimes aimed at destabilizing the country, causing chaos and spreading horror." One woman was among those executed, the ministry said.

Although the ministry does not give the dates of executions, the United Nations Assistance Ministry for Iraq (UNAMI) said that they took place between October 8th and 9th.

"UNAMI reiterates its call on the government of Iraq to adopt a moratorium on the implementation of all death sentences," the organization said in a press release.

According to a tally by the AFP news agency, Iraq has carried out 132 executions so far this year, compared to 129 executions during the entire year of 2012.

Iraq currently faces its worst wave of violence since 2008. Terrorist attacks have killed 4,900 people since the beginning of 2013, according to AFP, with more than 230 deaths since the start of October alone.

'Unconscionable'

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has harshly criticized Iraq's criminal justice system, saying it was "not functioning adequately."

Pillay accused Iraqi authorities of "numerous convictions based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment, a weak judiciary and trial proceedings that fall short of international standards."

"The application of the death penalty in these circumstances is unconscionable, as any miscarriage of justice as a result of capital punishment cannot be undone," Pillay said.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International ranked Iraq fourth among nations that carried out the death penalty the most in 2011. Only China, Iran and Saudi Arabia executed more people. The United States ranked fifth.

slk/ccp (AP, AFP)