by Savan Abdulrahman – Iraqi Kurdistan
Today, the death penalty is applied in 53 states in the world and yet statistics still indicate that crime continues in the world. There are states that have abolished the death penalty in favour of lifelong imprisonment; there are others that still keep the death penalty but use it rarely.
Capital punishment remains a legal penalty in Iraq, but is applied only when a decision comes from the ones in power. The following Iraqi Rule can still be applied: “If anyone kills someone on purpose, he/she will be executed”.
Karzan Fazil, a law advisor, states that: “In Kurdistan, more than 250 persons have execution decisions against them which have not been carried out. They have been detained in reform prisons. We don’t know how to deal or behave with them. The important question is: What is going on?” He added: “I don’t agree with execution as a punishment. Because mistakes might happen regarding executions determined as a form of judgment. And if the person who has committed a crime has made a mistake, a judgemental system established from the twentieth century should deal with reforming criminals rather than killing them.
“There is an execution rule in Iraq and Kurdistan. In Iraq, it is still there and in Kurdistan it has not been abolished by the law, because we have no written pieces that abolish the death penalty. Sometimes, it goes ahead for a person and for another person, it does not. The Kurdistan Regional Government wants to show the outside world that it doesn’t agree on executions”.
Nasrin Omer, also a lawyer, expresses a different view: “I agree with the death penalty. So that the same crime doesn’t repeat itself. When someone murders, he/she puts an end to someone else’s life. In religion, it states: ‘An eye for an eye’. This means if you cut off my eye, I will cut off your eye. If you cut off my arm, I will cut off your arm. If not for the death penalty, people will not learn”. Nasrin added: “The decision rests with the judge. The judge decides upon the punishment according to the nature of the crime. If the person has murdered on purpose, the possibility of execution will be high”.
In Marx’s view, ending a life in this way stems from a religious ideological background which can be named “the rule of revenge”, rather than a rule of justice. For Ashna Hama Aziz, a young lawyer, the “death penalty represents government interference in the existence or death of a person. It is generally undertaken in a totalitarian state or states where there is no democracy”.
What worries many people generally about the life imprisonment sentence is that the criminal might fit into a general exemption decision and return to society again. For Nasrin: “The decision to impose a life imprisonment sentence sometimes means it can later fall into a category of general exemption, which makes some thieves and drug merchants continue their brutal acts again”.