Human Rights and Democracy Report

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issuued the following update on human rights and democracy in Iraq:

We remain concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq and the increasing frequency of coordinated attacks. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, almost 3,000 people were killed in acts of terrorism between July and September with many more wounded. We have publicly condemned these attacks, the majority of which target civilians, and are often in places of worship or at markets.

On 21 July coordinated attacks on Abu Ghraib prison, on the western outskirts of Baghdad, and Taji prison, 12 miles north of the city, resulted in the escape of several hundred prisoners, most of whom were believed to be convicted terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The then Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, made a statement on 23 July condemning the attack.

This incident, and the increase in terrorist attacks, has led to a resumption of executions in Iraq. On 19 August, 17 prisoners were executed, of which 16 were for terrorism-related convictions. On 22 September, 13 people were executed, and on 26 September a further ten prisoners were executed, mostly for terrorism-related convictions.

This all follows a suspension of the use of the death penalty by the government in April this year in response to protests taking place in Western Iraq. HM Ambassador to Iraq formally raised our serious concerns about the resumption of executions with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, and on 22 August the EU High Representative Baroness Ashton issued a statement of concern on behalf of EU Member States, and urged the government of Iraq to move towards a moratorium.

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