LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – Saddam Hussein Trial + Saddam Hanging – The Iraqi authorities should suspend without delay any further executions until it is ensured that a fair trial is provided following major concerns over shortcomings in the trial and hanging of former president Saddam Hussein and two of his co-defendants, United Nations human rights experts have warned.
“International law allows the imposition of capital punishment only within rigorous legal constraints, including respect of fair trial standards,” Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Leandro Despouy and Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Leïla Zerrougui said in a statement.
“However, these standards were not guaranteed by the Iraqi High Tribunal,” they added, referring to the forthcoming sentencing of former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was convicted in connection with the same crimes against humanity for which Mr. Hussein and the other two co-defendants were hanged. The Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber ruled that the life sentence imposed on him was too lenient and ordered the court to re-sentence him.
Among the main concerns cited over the trials is the violation of a number of international human rights standards on the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal and on the right to defence, including numerous reports of external pressure on the judges that appear to have led to the removal and resignation of some of them.
The right to an appropriate and independent defence was also severely undermined, in particular by the “extremely serious attacks” against defence lawyers, some of whom were killed. “The assassination of defence attorneys appearing before the Iraqi High Tribunal threatens the entire procedure, since the role of defence lawyers is critical to a fair trial,” the statement said.