Iraqi government officials said that Iraq hanged 38 jihadists, 37 Iraqis, and one Swedish citizen, belonging to the Islamic State group or Al-Qaida for terrorism offenses on Thursday in the southern city of Nasiriyah.
It was the largest number of executions in Iraq on a single day since September 25 when 42 people were put to death in the same prison.
“The prison administration executed on Thursday in the presence of Justice Minister Haidar al-Zameli, in Nasiriyah prison, 38 death row prisoners belonging to Al-Qaida or Daesh (IS) accused of terrorist activities,” said Dakhel Kazem, a senior official in the provincial council.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday declared victory against IS after a three-year campaign by government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition to retake territory seized by the jihadists.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International has voiced repeated concerns about the use of the death penalty in Iraq, which it ranks as one of the world’s top executioners behind China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
“Iraqi justice is failing to distinguish between the culpability of doctors who protected lives under ISIS rule and those responsible for crimes against humanity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director.
HRW said it regretted what it called the inconsistent application of a 2016 law granting amnesty to suspects who can show they joined IS or any extremist group against their will and have not committed a crime.
“Execution of fighters who surrender or are hors de combat is a war crime,” HRW added.
Human Rights Watch made a case for many Iraqis who were forced to join the Islamic State against their will during the IS invasion of 2014 where they took a large percentage of Iraq before the government struck back and drove them out in subsequent operations.
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