By Jeanne Mirer, NLG International Committee
The National Lawyers Guild International Committee (NLG-IC), a network of human rights attorneys, law students, and legal workers, has received information that an Iraqi Tribunal has convicted and intends to put three young Iraqi women, Wassan Talib , age 31; Zeynab Fadhil age 25 and Liqa Omar Muhammad age 26 to death in the very near future.
Based on the information received, the NLG-IC demands that the Iraqi government immediately repudiate its intention to execute these women. NLG-IC joins with many human rights and jurists organizations in making this demand.
The following reasons support this demand:
1. We have received information that these three were denied legal counsel and that they have denied the charges against them. Without legal counsel to present their cases, they have been denied the fundamental right to a fair trial. In this regard their and this fact alone would make their executions, summary and extra-judicial. Iraq and the United States are also bound by International human rights law which includes Article 14 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial.
2. The law under which these women were charged, Article 156 of the Iraqi Penal Code, reads: “Any person who willfully commits an act with the intent to violate the independence of the country or its unity or the security of its territory and that act, by its nature leads to a violation, is punishable by death”. This law cannot apply in the context of an occupation where the crimes they were charged with were related to the resisting the occupation of Iraq by the United States.
3. As international law affirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, national unity, and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle, (UN General Assembly Resolution 37/43 adopted 3 December 1982) it is illegal for the Iraqi government to have tried these individuals in an Iraqi Tribunal, when they if they were to be detained they should have been considered Prisoners of War and provided all of the protections of the Third Geneva Convention. Under this convention they cannot be tried and executed summarily.
4. Iraq and the US are bound by international humanitarian law. Whether these women are treated as combatants or civilians they have a right to independent legal counsel. (Article 99 of the Third Geneva Convention, and Article 113 of the Fourth Geneva Convention).
5. Furthermore, these women are being held in Baghdad’s Al-Kadhimiya Prison. Two of them have small children, and the one-year-old daughter of Liqa was born in prison. While the international community overwhelmingly rejects the use of the death penalty in all cases, Article 3 of the UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those facing the Death Penalty, (ECOSOC Resolution 1984/50, adopted 25 May 1984) states that the death penalty cannot be imposed on new mothers, and Article 5 states that the death penalty may not be imposed unless the legal process is competent, and all due process rights are safeguarded and Article 6 of the UN Safeguards demands that anyone sentenced to death must have the right of appeal to a higher court, and Article 8 makes it illegal to execute anyone while an appeal is pending.
In light of the foregoing, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee demands that the Iraqi Government repudiate the convictions of these woman and provide them with the protections under international humanitarian law.