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Amnesty International Says Iraq Executed 120 In 2009

(RFE/RL) -- Human rights group Amnesty International says that Iraq has executed 120 people so far this year, and called on the government not to enact the executions of another 900 prisoners on death row.

In a press release, Amnesty International said that the prisoners awaiting execution -- including 17 women -- have exhausted their legal appeals and could be put to death at any time. The group warned that some prisoners may have been sentenced after unfair trials.

Amnesty suggested that the government is using the death penalty to prove that it is tough on crime and instability ahead of national elections in 2010.

The death penalty was reintroduced in Iraq in August 2004, and at least 1,000 people have been sentenced to death since then, although there are no official figures for the number of people on death row, according to Amnesty.

"The Iraqi government must heed international demands to stop executions," said Philip Luther, the deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.