The government of Iraq on Sunday confirmed that it had hanged 36 militants sentenced to death over the mass killing of over 1,700 of mainly Shi’ite soldiers at a camp north of Baghdad in 2014.
The killings formed one of the worst atrocities carried out over the course of the Iraq’s ongoing bloody battle with the Islamic State, which inflamed sectarian tensions in the country.
The executions were carried out at a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, state television quoted the Justice Ministry as saying.
As many as 1,700 soldiers were killed two years ago after they fled from Camp Speicher, a former U.S. military base just north of Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, when it was overrun by Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni group.
Mass executions documented in videos and images followed, even as the footage was then disseminated online in the way that has become IS’s calling card around the world.
An estimated 1,200 people are on death row in Iraq, including possibly hundreds who have exhausted appeals, the UN statement said.
“Given the weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system, and the current environment in Iraq, I am gravely concerned that innocent people have been and may continue to be convicted and executed, resulting in gross, irreversible miscarriages of justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in the statement.
Justice Minister Haidar al-Zamili dismissed the concern, saying each case “was reviewed in detail” before being sent to Iraqi President Fuad Masum, whose approval is needed for a death sentence to be carried out.
“There will be more executions,” Zamili added, speaking at a ceremony to mark the hangings in Nasiriya, attended by the families of the Speicher victims and broadcast on state TV.