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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Iraq: UN Human Rights alarmed by draft law with death penalty for same-sex relations

09 February 2024


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Marta Hurtado



We are troubled by proposed amendments to legislation in Iraq which, if approved, would impose the death penalty or life imprisonment for engaging in consensual same-sex relations, as well as for certain forms of adultery. We call on the members of Parliament to ensure that any legislation is fully in line with Iraq’s human rights obligations.

This was among the issues raised, with deep concern, by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk with Iraqi authorities during his mission to Iraq in August last year.

For countries which have not abolished the death penalty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iraq ratified in 1971, strictly limits the death penalty to “the most serious crimes”, which entails crimes of extreme gravity involving intentional killing.

The proposed amendments are all the more alarming in the context of Iraq, given its widening use of the death penalty. More than a dozen prisoners were executed at the end of 2023, and reports have been received indicating that the execution of hundreds of prisoners has been recently authorised.

We call on the Government to halt all planned executions and establish a moratorium on any imposition of capital punishment, with a view to its abolition.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected] 
Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] 
Liz Throssell - + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected]

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