Iraq's death penalty record 'disturbing'

July 27, 2012 at 2:42 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 27 (UPI) -- The potential execution of up to 196 prisoners in Iraq's Anbar province is an "extremely disturbing" development, a U.N. representative said.

The United Nations reports that an Iraqi court upheld death sentences for 196 prisoners in Anbar. The government of Iraq hasn't provided public information about the cases, which the United Nations says are part of a regrettable pattern.

Christof Heyns, U.N. special envoy on arbitrary executions, said there were too many lives at stake and too little transparency for tolerance.

"It is extremely disturbing that up to 196 individuals may be at imminent risk of execution, with a serious lack of public information on the cases," he said in a statement. "And this is in a single province of the country."

There were an estimated 70 executions carried out in Iraq so far this year. More than 30 were carried out in a single day.

The U.N. Security Council this week extended the mandate for its assistance mission to Iraq for 12 months, saying a lack of political progress was undermining overall development.

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