Ban Ki-moon urges Iraqi Government not to execute those on death row

6 January 2007 –

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the Government of Iraq to grant a stay of execution to those whose death sentences may be carried out in the near future.

His Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, in a letter to Iraq's UN ambassador, today reiterated the Secretary General's endorsement of the call made earlier this month by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, for restraint by the Government in carrying out death sentences imposed by the Iraqi High Tribunal.

The letter also refers to the Secretary-General's view that all members of the international community should pay due regard to all aspects of international humanitarian and human rights laws, according to a spokesman for Mr. Ban said.

On 3 January, reacting to the Government's plans to execute two high-ranking co-defendants of former president Saddam Hussein, who had already been hanged, Ms. Arbour pointed out that international law “only allows the imposition of the death penalty as an exceptional measure within rigorous legal constraints.”

The High Commissioner had previously voiced concern about the fairness and impartiality of Saddam Hussein's trial.

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