Iraq: The Death Penalty, Executions, and "Prison Cleansing"

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This briefing paper examines Iraq's arbitrary and widespread use of the death penalty and extrajudicial executions. For more than three decades, the government of President Saddam Hussein has sanctioned the use of the death penalty and extrajudicial executions as a tool of political repression, both in order to eliminate real or suspected political opponents and to maintain a reign of terror over the population at large. The executions that have taken place over this period constitute an integral part of more systematic repression - characterized by widespread arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention without trial, death in custody under torture, and large-scale "disappearances" - through which the government has sustained its rule.

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