Iraq's Brutal Decrees

Amputation, Branding and the Death Penalty

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eginning in June 1994, the government of Iraq issued at least nine decrees that establish severe penalties, including amputation, branding and the death penalty for criminal offenses such as theft, corruption, currency speculation and military desertion. These new decrees greatly impinge on individual human rights and constitute violations of several international human rights conventions and standards. The government of Iraq attempts to deflect international criticism of this cruelty by maintaining that the decrees were enacted to combat rising crime which, it says, is due to the poverty and desperation brought on by international economic sanctions. By implying that if sanctions are lifted and the situation improves the decrees could be repealed, Iraq appears to use these abuses as leverage for the lifting of sanctions. While arguing that the decrees serve as a deterrent to crime, the government has offered no information that they are serving this purpose.
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