U.N. chief calls for stop to execution

Feb. 8, 2007 at 4:19 PM   |   0 comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The top human rights official at the United Nations says international law prohibits the execution of a former Iraqi government official.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour filed a legal brief with the Iraqi High Tribunal Thursday, which asserts Taha Yassin Ramadan, former vice president of Iraq, did not receive a fair trial and should not be sentenced to die.

Ramadan was convicted of crimes similar to those for which Saddam Hussein and two other defendants were recently hanged, but Ramadan received life in prison. An appeals panel later said the sentence was too lenient and ordered the court to re-sentence him.

"The high commissioner argues that the court's imposition of the death sentence on Taha Yassin Ramadan would violate Iraq's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," said a statement issued by Arbour's office.

The covenant, which Iraq has ratified, says that a death sentence may only be imposed when due process has been strictly followed.

Arbour's action followed a call last month by two independent U.N. rights experts that Iraq should suspend any further executions until fair trials are provided.

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