Iraq executed 51 people in the month of January, including 17 in one single day. This makes Iraq the worst place on earth for capital punishment.
At that rate, Iraq is now averaging 19 executions per million population per annum. By comparison, in the most recent report of the United Nations Secretary General on the status of the death penalty, the highest rates were 3.34 for Saudi Arabia and 3.29 for Iran (see UN Doc. E/2010/10, p. 9). In that report, issued two years ago, Iraq was at 0.92.
Virtually everywhere else in the world, including notably the United States and China, the death penalty is in sharp decline. Pakistan, for example, once an important practitioner of capital punishment, appears to have stopped altogether. Major declines are expected in the Arab countries that have been touched by the so-called ‘Arab spring’. The exception is this little knot of countries in the Middle East – Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
I suppose this is the democratic dividend that Rumsfeld, Bush and Blair were going to bring to the region when they invaded Iraq in 2003.