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Former Iraqi VP receives death penalty

Former Iraqi VP receives death penaltyFormer Iraqi Vice President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, has been sentenced to death by hanging by the appeals chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT). The IHT had originally handed down a life sentence in regards to the Dujail massacres of 1982, which followed a failed assassination attempt against former Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein , himself executed by the Iraqi government in 2006. The appeals court had ruled that the original life sentence was too lenient, despite Ramadan's pleas of innocents and many human rights groups calling for an examination of the IHT and the use of capital punishment. Human Rights Watch, for example, has expressed "serious concerns about the fairness of the Dujail trial."

The IHT was established under the US orchestrated Coalition Provision Authority (CPA) and was continued once Iraq was granted full sovereignty. The CPA, under L. Paul Bremer, had originally abolished the death penalty in Iraq, though it was reinstated by the Iraqi interim government in 2004.

The IHT is an example of imposing ex post facto, as Iraqi law lacked explicit provisions for human rights violations under Saddam Hussein. The IHT relies heavily on international laws of war outlined in the Geneva Convention and incorporates some national Iraqi law in regards to general abuse of power and interfering with the judicial process.

This is a novel example of the Tribunal system attempting to seek justice for past atrocities. It is rather unconventional for an atrocities regime to be established while occupying forces are still holding sovereignty. Further, the IHT does not appear to incorporate jurists from the international community, bringing various issues of venue into question. And, the enforcement of penalties prior to full exploration of other atrocities occurring in Saddam's Iraq leaves many questions of justice unresolved.

Iraq's human rights minister is reported as stating intentions to abolish the death penalty there, though Iraqi law requires the carrying out of sentence within 30 days of their delivery.

The Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal may be found here.

The Center for Defense Information has a detailed exploration into the IHT here.




Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors