Iraq Hangs 38 'ISIS Members' in Latest Mass Execution

Iraq hanged 38 Sunni Muslim militants on Thursday, December 14, after they were sentenced to death on terrorism charges, the justice ministry said in a statement.

The mass executions were carried out at a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, the statement said quoting the Justice Minister.

On September 24, Iraq executed 42 Sunni Muslim militants on terrorism charges ranging from killing members of security forces to detonating car bombs.

The justice ministry said all the convicted were members of Islamic State (ISIS). Officials have said all the appeal options available to the condemned had been exhausted, according to the statement.

The mass execution came days after Iraq declared victory over ISIS after its forces drove the group's last remnants form the country, recapturing areas on the border with Syria.

"Honorable Iraqis: your land has been completely liberated. The dream of liberation is now a reality," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised address.

"We have accomplished a very difficult mission. Our heroes have reached the final strongholds of Daesh [ISIS] and purified it. The Iraqi flag flies high today over all Iraqi lands."

Isis in Iraq
Iraqis wave the national flag at the Tahrir Square in the capital Baghdad on December 10, 2017, during a military parade to mark the end of a three-year war against the Islamic State group. Iraq hanged 38 Sunni Muslim militants, which it said were all Isis members, days after country was declared liberated. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

People tried under the country's anti-terrorism law face life in prison or the death penalty.

There are thousands of ISIS suspects currently awaiting trial in Iraq. EarlierDecember, Human Rights Watch warned that their prosecutions are marred with "due process violations."

The organization claimed the country does not have a comprehensive national strategy to ensure credible prosecution of ISIS members.

"Authorities appear to be prosecuting all ISIS suspects in their custody under counter-terrorism laws, primarily for ISIS membership, and not focusing on specific actions or crimes that may have been committed," it said.

Linda Wenzel

When ISIS emerged in 2014, it seized large swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria, making the respective cities of Mosul and Raqqa the capitals of its self-declared Islamic Caliphate. Coalition forces recaptured both cities earlier this year.

In its pursuit to expand its dominion over captured territories, ISIS called on fellow Muslims around the world to join its fight. As a result, thousands of so-called "foreign fighters" traveled to Iraq and Syria.

This includes 17-year-old German girl Linda Wenzel, arrested by Iraqi forces during the recapture of Mosul this summer.

Iraqi soldiers claim the girl engaged in terror-related activities while with ISIS and may have killed people.

German officials have been engaging with the Iraqi government, but it is not clear yet whether Wenzel will be allowed to return home.

There are fears that Wenzel could also be sentenced to death, should she be tried in Iraq for terrorism-related crimes. However, she would not be executed until the age of 22.

Rights groups have warned the girl, held in a prison in Baghdad, should be protected by international laws guaranteeing children's rights. As a juvenile, a possible execution for crimes committed as a minor would be in breach of international laws.

However, earlier this year, Abadi confirmed that the girl could be sentenced to death, claiming that teenagers must be held accountable for their crimes.

"You know teenagers under certain laws, they are accountable for their actions especially if the act is a criminal activity when it amounts to killing innocent people," Abadi told the Associated Press.