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Iraq executes 11 more 'terrorism' convicts: ministry

24 January, 2014

BAGHDAD: Iraq executed 11 men convicted of charges related to "terrorism" on Thursday, the justice ministry said, just days after another mass execution of 26 convicts. "The ministry executed 11 people today, after they were convicted of terrorism charges," it said in a statement. "The total of those executed this week is now 37, all of them Iraqis."

Executions in Iraq are typically carried out by hanging, and large numbers are typically announced at once by the justice ministry. On Sunday, 26 people were executed. Iraq has faced widespread criticism from diplomats, analysts and human rights groups who say that due to a problematic justice system, those being executed are not necessarily guilty of the crimes for which they were sentenced to die.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Iraq to halt executions on a visit to Baghdad this month, but was publicly rebuked by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who said the country does not "believe that the rights of someone who kills people must be respected".

The country executed at least 169 people last year, according to an AFP tally based on statements from the justice ministry and reports from officials. It was the highest figure since the US-led invasion of 2003, and placed it third in the world for the number of executions after only China and Iran. The rise in executions in 2013 and the early part of this year comes as Iraq grapples with its worst prolonged period of violence since it emerged from brutal sectarian fighting that peaked in 2006-2007 and left tens of thousands dead.

And with elections coming up in April and a litany of concerns facing voters, from poor services to high unemployment, politicians will likely seek to focus attention elsewhere while analysts say ministers wanting to project toughness could even up the pace of executions.

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