BAGHDAD — Iraq executed 17 prisoners today, all but one convicted for “terrorism,” shrugging off calls from international human rights organizations to reconsider the use of capital punishment.
In a statement posted on its website, the Justice Ministry said authorities had executed 15 Iraqis and an Egyptian convicted of terrorism for “carrying out crimes against the Iraqi people.” The other prisoner was convicted of another unspecified criminal offense.
Two of those hanged were women, it added, without saying when the executions were carried out. This year, a total of 67 people have been executed in the country.
After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that topped longtime dictator Saddam Hussein, occupation authorities suspended Iraq’s death penalty. It was reinstated in 2004 by the country’s transitional government. Since then, Iraqi governments have shown increasing enthusiasm for its use as a law-and-order tool to deter insurgents.
According to London-based Amnesty International, Iraq was ranked fourth among the top five executioners in the world in 2011, after China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Human rights groups have questioned whether defendants receive a fair trial.
Meanwhile, violence continued in the country today.
Seven people were killed in different attacks in and outside the northern city of Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, a police officer said. Six of them were civilians who were killed in shootings and bomb attacks, while the seventh was a policeman killed when a bomb hit his convoy, he added.
A medical official confirmed the causality figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Mosul has been a major flashpoint in a recent surge of violence nationwide that has left more than 3,000 people dead over the past few months. The killings have raised fears Iraq could see a new round of widespread sectarian bloodshed similar to that which brought the country to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007.