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Iraq executed 17 convicted criminals in one day this week, the Justice Ministry said, bringing to at least 51 the number of executions so far this year.

A ministry statement said the accused had been convicted of terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping, and murder.

Ministry statistics show Iraq executed 34 people in January.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay last week called the number of executions in Iraq "terrifying."

She urged the country to halt executions, expressing concern about the transparency of court proceedings and the fairness of the judicial process.

Executions were suspended after Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003 but reintroduced in 2004 by Iraqi authorities who said the death penalty was needed to combat a wave of sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents.

Compiled from agency reports

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