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Iraq

 
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Iraq

Criminal Justice System

The regular criminal justice system consisted of courts of first instance (including magistrate courts), courts of sessions, and a Court of Cassation. Major crimes against state security were tried in the revolutionary courts, which operated separately from the regular judicial system. In general this court system followed the French pattern as first introduced during the rule of the Ottoman Turks, although the system had undergone several modifications during the twentieth century. Juries were not used anywhere in the Iraqi criminal court system.

Most petty crimes, or contraventions, which carried penalties of imprisonment from one day to three months or of fines up to ID30, were tried in local magistrate courts. These third-class courts, which were found in all local municipalities, were presided over by municipal council members or by other local administrative officials. First- and second-class criminal matters, which corresponded to felonies and to misdemeanors, respectively, were tried within appropriate penal courts attached to civil courts of first instance, located in provincial capitals and in district and subdistrict centers. Misdemeanors were punishable by three months' to five years' imprisonment; felonies by five years' to life imprisonment or by the death penalty. One judge conducted the trials for criminal matters at each of these courts of original jurisdiction.

In 1986 the six courts of session continued to hold jurisdiction in the most serious criminal matters, and they acted as courts of appeal in relation to lower penal or magistrate courts. Four of these courts were identical to the civil courts of appeal; two were presided over by local judges from the courts of first instance. Three judges heard cases tried in the courts of session.

The Court of Cassation was the state's highest court for criminal matters. At least three judges were required to be present in its deliberations, and in cases punishable by death, five judges were required. The Court of Cassation also served as the highest court of appeals, and it confirmed, reduced, remitted, or suspended sentences from lower courts. It assumed original jurisdiction over crimes committed by judges or by highranking government officials.

The revolutionary courts, composed of three judges, sat permanently in Baghdad to try crimes against the security of the state; these crimes were defined to include espionage, treason, smuggling, and trade in narcotics. Sessions were held in camera, and the right of defense reportedly was severely restricted. It was also believed that regular judicial procedures did not apply in these special courts, summary proceedings being common.

On several occasions during the 1970s--after the attempted coups of 1970 and of 1973, after the 1977 riots in An Najaf and in Karbala, and after the 1979 conspiracy against the regime--the RCC decreed the establishment of special temporary tribunals to try large numbers of security offenders en masse. Each of these trials was presided over by three or four high government officials who, not being bound by ordinary provisions of criminal law, rendered swift and harsh sentences. In 1970 fifty-two of an estimated ninety accused persons were convicted, and thirty-seven of these were executed during three days of proceedings. It was believed that about thirty-five had been sentenced to death and about twenty had been acquitted, during two days of trials in 1973. In a one-day trial in 1977, eight were sentenced to death, and fifteen were sentenced to life imprisonment; eighty-seven persons were believed to have been acquitted. Thirty-eight Iraqis were executed between May 24 and May 27, 1978. The majority of them were members of the armed forces, guilty of political activity inside the military. An additional twenty-one leading members of the party, including ministers, trade union leaders, and members of the RCC, were tried in camera and executed in 1979. In general, those sentenced to death were executed, either by hanging or by firing squad, immediately after the trials.

Administered by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the penal system was dominated by the central prison at Abu Ghurayb near Baghdad, which housed several thousand prisoners, and by three smaller branch prisons located in the governorates of Al Basrah, Babylon, and Nineveh. Additional detention centers were located throughout the country. In early 1988, it was impossible to determine the full number of imprisonments in Iraq.

Internal security was a matter of ongoing concern for Iraq in the late 1980s. The end of the war with Iran would presumably bring opportunities for liberalizing the security restrictions imposed by the Baathist regime.

* * *

English-language literature on the subject of Iraqi national security was scarce in 1988, largely because of the government's almost obsessive secrecy with respect to security affairs and because of the Iran-Iraq War. Frederick W. Axelgard's Iraq in Transition: A Political, Economic, and Strategic Perspective was the most comprehensive and up-to-date study of the subject in 1988. Majid Khadduri's Socialist Iraq, dealing with military and security affairs in the larger context of post-1968 political developments, continued to be indispensable. Mohammad A. Tarbush's The Role of the Military in Politics: A Case Study of Iraq to 1941, and Hanna Batatu's The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, provided invaluable background information. The rapid growth, in both manpower and equipment, of Iraq's armed forces was best documented in the annual The Military Balance, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Accounts by Efraim Karsh in The Iran-Iraq War, and a series of articles by Anthony H. Cordesman, thoroughly discussed the IranIraq War. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography).

Data as of May 1988

 

Iraq - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Government and Politics
  • National Security

  • Go Up - Top of Page






    GENERAL FACTS & LINKS

    Country name
    Iraq
    conventional long form
    Republic of Iraq
    conventional short form
    Iraq
    local long form
    Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
    local short form
    Al Iraq

    Area -
    total: 437,072 sq km
    land: 432,162 sq km
    water: 4,910 sq km

    Geographic Location - Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait

    Map references - Middle East

    Capital - Baghdad

    Border Countries - Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 242 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 331 km

    Major Cities - Baghdad

    Independence -
    3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

    National holiday - Revolution Day, 17 July (1968)

    ISD CODE
    Iraq 964

    Languages Spoken - Arabic (official) and Kurdish

    Weather Forecast -  Baghdad  Mosul  Saddam Irq-Afb / Civ  Shaibah / Basrah

    Major Airports - Baghdad

    Ports - Umm Qasr, Khawr az Zubayr, and Al Basrah have limited functionality

    Population -24,001,816 (July 2002 est.)

    Religion - Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

    Nationality - Iraqi(s)

    Currency - Iraqi dinar

    Currency Code - IQD

    National Bird - "Kew" (Chukar)

    Lakes - Hammer

    Rivers - Euphrates, Tigris

    Terrain - Mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey

    Climate - Mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq

    Geography - Strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf

    Waterways - 1,015 km
    note: Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use; Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have navigable sections for shallow-draft boats; Shatt al Basrah canal was navigable by shallow-draft craft before closing in 1991 because of the Gulf war

    Natural hazards - Dust storms, sandstorms, floods

    Natural Resources - petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulphur


    More Iraq related links from
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     Iraq Country Facts

     Middle Eastern Political Geography

     Iraq Political Geography

     Middle Eastern Physical Geography

     Iraq Towns & Cities

     Iraq History


    Iraq related links from
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     Iraq Country Guide

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     Iraq Travel Warnings

     Iraq Cities Weather

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    Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


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