Capital punishment in Iraq is a legal penalty. It was commonly used by the government of Saddam Hussein (who was himself ultimately executed), was temporarily halted after the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq that deposed Saddam, and has since been reinstated. Executions are carried out by hanging.

Iraqi law states that no person over the age of 70 can be executed; however there have been instances in which this provision was violated, such as Tariq Aziz, who was sentenced to death at the age of 74.[citation needed] There is a guaranteed right to appeal on all such sentences. Iraqi Law requires execution take place within 30 days of all legal avenues being exhausted. The last legal step, before the execution proceeds, is for the condemned to be handed a red card. This is completed by an official of the court with details of the judgment and a notice that execution is imminent.[1]

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer suspended capital punishment on June 10, declaring that "the former regime used certain provisions of the penal code as a means of oppression, in violation of internationally acknowledged human rights."[2] However, on August 8, 2004, capital punishment was reinstated in Iraq.[2] Executions resumed in September 2005, after three men convicted of murder were executed. On March 9, 2006, an official of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council confirmed that Iraqi authorities had executed the first insurgents by hanging.[3] 27 people, including one woman, were executed by the Iraqi government on September 6, 2006, for high crimes against civilians.[4] On January 19, 2012, 34 people were executed in a single day.[5] Early in October 2013, 42 people convicted of terrorism charges were hanged over the course of two days. By that date a total of 132 people had been executed in 2013.[6]

In July 2016, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi ordered the execution of all terrorists condemned in the country following the Baghdad suicide truck bombing which killed over 250 people at a mall in Karrada, Baghdad.[7] Iraq carried out at least 88 executions in 2016, and at least 125 in 2017.[8] After the defeat of ISIS in Mosul in 2017, Iraq tried and sentenced captured terrorists to death in large numbers.[9]

Notable executions

Main article: Execution of Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging for crimes against humanity[10] on November 5, 2006, and was executed on December 30, 2006 at approximately 6:00 a.m. local time. During the drop there was an audible crack indicating that his neck was broken, a successful example of a long drop hanging.[11]

By contrast, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the head of the Mukhabarat, Saddam's security agency, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former chief judge, were executed on January 15, 2007, also by the long drop method, but Barzan was decapitated by the rope at the end of his fall indicating that the drop was too long, relative to his body weight.[12]

Also, former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan had been sentenced to life in prison on November 5, 2006, but the sentence was changed to death by hanging on February 12, 2007.[13] He was the fourth and final man to be executed for the 1982 crimes against humanity on March 20, 2007. This time, the execution went smoothly and without obvious mistake or problem.[14]

At the Anfal genocide trial, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (aka Chemical Ali), former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tay, and former deputy Hussein Rashid Mohammed were sentenced to hang for their role in the Al-Anfal Campaign against the Kurds on June 24, 2007.[15] Al-Majid was sentenced to death three more times: once for the 1991 suppression of a Shi'a uprising along with Abdul-Ghani Abdul Ghafur on December 2, 2008;[16] once for the 1999 crackdown in the assassination of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad al-Sadr on March 2, 2009;[17] and once on January 17, 2010 for the gassing of the Kurds in 1988;[18] he was hanged on January 25.[19]

On October 26, 2010, Saddam's top minister Tariq Aziz was sentenced to hang for persecuting the members of rival Shi'a political parties.[20] However, Aziz died of a heart attack on June 5, 2015, before he could be hanged.[21]

On July 14, 2011, Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tay and two of Saddam's half-brothers -- Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Watban Ibrahim al-Tikriti (both condemned to death on March 11, 2009 for the role in the executions of 42 traders who were accused of manipulating food prices[22]) -- were handed over to the Iraqi authorities for execution.[23]

See also

Criminal punishment in Abbasid Caliphate


  1. ^ "Iraq is preparing for Saddam's hanging". International Herald Tribune. 2006-12-29. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  2. ^ a b "Scores face execution in Iraq six years after invasion". Amnesty International USA. 2009-03-20. Archived from the original on 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  3. ^ Conley, Brian (April 14, 2006). "Capital Punishment in Iraq Seen Simply As Death, Not Justice".
  4. ^ "Iraq has months to avert collapse". CNN. 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2006-09-06.
  5. ^ "Iraq's execution of 34 people in one day 'shocking' – UN human rights chief". UN News. January 24, 2012.
  6. ^ "Iraq hangs 42 convicted on terrorism charges". The Jordan Times. 10 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  7. ^ "PM of Iraq orders immediate execution of convicted terrorists". Archived from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Death sentences and executions in 2016". Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Inside the Iraqi courts sentencing IS suspects to death". September 2, 2017 – via
  10. ^ "Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging". 2006-11-05. Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2006-11-05.
  11. ^ "Saddam Hussein Hanging Video Shows Defiance, Taunts and Glee". National Ledger. 2007-01-01. Archived from the original on 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2007-01-20.
  12. ^ AP: Saddam’s half brother and ex-official hanged[permanent dead link] January 15, 2007
  13. ^ Top Saddam aide sentenced to hang February 12, 2007
  14. ^ Saddam's former deputy hanged in Iraq Archived March 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine March 20, 2007
  15. ^ Iraq's "Chemical Ali" sentenced to death,, June 24, 2007. Retrieved on June 24, 2007.
  16. ^ Second death sentence for Iraq's 'Chemical Ali,, December 2, 2008. Retrieved on December 2, 2008.
  17. ^ Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' gets 3rd death sentence, Associated Press, March 2, 2009. Retrieved on January 17, 2010.
  18. ^ 'Chemical Ali' gets a new death sentence,, January 17, 2010. Retrieved on January 17, 2010.
  19. ^ "Saddam Hussein's Henchman Chemical Ali Executed". The Daily Telegraph. London. January 25, 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  20. ^ "Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's former aid, sentenced to hang in Iraq for crimes against humanity". New York Daily News. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  21. ^ "Tariq Aziz, ex-Saddam Hussein aide, dies after heart attack". BBC. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Saddam's deputy PM Tariq Aziz gets 15-year prison sentence". CBC News. March 11, 2009.
  23. ^ al-Ansary, Khalid (15 July 2011). "U.S. turns Saddam's half-brothers over to Iraq". Reuters. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2011.