ISIS, the Rule of Law & the Death Penalty in Iraq

Iraq’s post-invasion government is attempting to ‘do justice’ behind a paper-thin rule of law. The clearest evidence of this is that courts are handing down death sentences after trials lasting only 10 minutes.

Funny — if you can use that word in the context of a death penalty case — given that developing the rule of law was part of what the invasion was all about to begin with.

If a government is prepared to have the death penalty available as a punishment, then it must also be prepared to ensure due process and fair trials to get to such a drastic outcome.

This is not an argument against the death penalty (of which there are many), it is an argument in favour of the rule of law.

There is a transnational element to this:

Iraq is not simply convicting and condemning its own citizens to death—an outcome problematic in itself, but one with some basis in law. Rather, it is sanctioning the murder of foreign nationals.

This highlights the critical importance of being able to access advocacy while abroad.

Following detention and often torture, it is total nonsense to suggest that someone can be expected to be able to effectively represent their own interests in court.

When you are on trial for your life – and that trial only lasts 10 minutes, you are at the mercy of an angry state.

One of the core aims of LawAid International is to deliver access to justice through global advocacy – certainly a challenge when you get 10 minutes in court for your clients case. In these cases, it is difficult if not impossible to find the lawyers complaining or the judiciary doing their job.

Bombing a nation state back to the dark ages seems to have achieved its aim – delivering dark age style justice.

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Craig Tuck

Head of Chambers, LawAid International