The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has called for a death sentence passed against former Iraqi MP Ahmed Al-Alwani at the weekend to be lifted in the absence of clear and detailed information on trial proceedings, his whereabouts and his health.
IPU is also urging authorities to allow prison visits for Al-Alwani.
Since his arrest nearly a year ago, there has been little to no news of Al-Alwani, an outspoken critic of the perceived marginalization and persecution of Sunni Muslims in Iraq.
A raid carried out by security forces on his home in Al-Anbar province on 28 December 2013 left his brother and five of his security guards dead. Al-Alwani’s sentence was for the alleged killing of security force members, according to local media.
IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has repeatedly requested Iraqi authorities to provide information on the case and on Al-Alwani’s situation, but to date has received no response. Until news of the death sentence broke, the Organization could not be sure he was still alive.
Al-Alwani’s family and lawyer, who has also been threatened, have expressed fears that he was being held in secret detention in Baghdad with reports of alleged torture. The Parliamentary Investigative Committee of Iraq’s Council of Representatives has also been unable to ascertain his location, conditions of detention or to visit him.
The Speaker of the Council of Representatives at the time had said Al-Alwani’s parliamentary immunity had been violated and that there were serious concerns about due respect for constitutional and legal safeguards in this case.
Assuming Al-Alwani was tried before the sentence was passed and with no information available on any proceedings, there is serious doubt that the case complied with basic fair trial and due process guarantees.
Al-Alwani has one month to appeal the sentence. IPU is urging the authorities to ensure that he is provided with all the necessary guarantees to present his defence at the hearing.The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is currently working on cases involving the human rights abuses of 311 MPs, three of them in Iraq.