Iraq’s death penalty

Iraq doesn't have a constitution and despite this they are executing people.

For a regime that suppresses political dissent as much as Saddam Hussein’s, legalizing the death penalty is a dangerous route. The regime’s intolerance of political dissent was displayed with the banishment of Al-Jazeera television after the network was critical of the new Iraqi regime.

Irony lies in the fact that Iraq is a country without a constitution, but despite this fact, it is executing people. More importantly, not only is there possibly discrimination in this process, but the legislation also poses the reality that someone harsher than Saddam has been brought to “liberate” the Iraqis.

The current death penalty in Iraq covers acts including murder, kidnapping, insurgency and drug offenses. The proposed bill, which will soon pass, expands the death penalty to broadly target those considered terrorists. Who and what are considered terrorist and terrorism is up to the regime. It might appear that Sunnis, who make up much of the insurgency, are perhaps the target of this legislation. Yet, leaders are going ahead with the death penalty despite the political turmoil and the fear that it will instill in people. As The Who would sing, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

It was no secret that Saddam was known for executing people based on political ideology, but it is not far-fetched to argue that this regime is doing the same.

The Shiites, who dominate the Iraqi government, are attempting to suppress the Sunni insurgency. This has led to intolerance and discrimination. Recently the Human Rights Watch group has accused the Iraqi government of targeting Sunni religious leaders.

But, even with its insurgency crisis, Iraq does not need the death penalty; at least not for the time being. Iraqis must vote on this matter later; but in the midst of chaos, executions should be avoided.

Understandably, the insurgency problem in Iraq is a difficult one to cope with. However, executions are not the answer when death is a comparable trade for many. Members of groups such as Ansar al-Sunna are volunteering to die.

Based on this fact, how will the death penalty dissuade people from joining the insurgency when death is a small price for so many?

It would be better for the Iraqi government to trust prison systems instead of modern guillotines.