Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Friday, 25 November 2005

Head to head: Should Saddam die?

Remaining statues of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad
Numerous crimes were committed under Saddam Hussein's rule
If Saddam Hussein is convicted at his trial, he could face death within 30 days of a final judgement - meaning other serious charges against the former ruler could be shelved.

Many Iraqis feel a man responsible for so much suffering should face the ultimate punishment, and quickly. But others fear a sentence that smacks of summary justice could seriously undermine the new authorities' stated commitment to justice and the rule of law.

The BBC News website invited two figures on either side of the debate to answer the question: If found guilty, should Saddam Hussein face death?


If Saddam Hussein is found guilty, he should be sentenced to death and executed straight away. If we wait until he has been tried for all the crimes he committed, we would be waiting forever.

Under the slogan of a 'new Iraq', do we let this man and his gang get away with all the atrocities and crimes committed over 35 years?
Millions of people were affected by his regime. You can barely find a house or home where someone or more than one was not either executed, or killed in a war, or went missing under this regime. Find me an Iraqi who doesn't support Saddam's swift execution.

We have to show the people that we have done justice by killing this tyrant. Anything less means we are cheating our people. Under the slogan of a "new Iraq", do we let this man and his gang get away with all the atrocities and crimes committed over 35 years?

Iraqis need to know that Saddam is dead. There are many Iraqis who are still fearful that he could come back. The majority of people want to be assured that Saddam has been killed.

Iraqis urge Saddam Hussein's speedy execution
Iraqis have held demonstrations urging Saddam's quick execution
Then we have a minority of ex-Baath regime members or those from his town or those terrorists trying to kill a lot of people. They want him back. They hope one day America might give him a pardon and he might come back. They want the US to leave Iraq so they can dominate and get him back in power.

Look what is happening in Iraq now - every day, we have massacres and atrocities of innocent people. You have to say: "Stop. Killing is equal to killing. If you kill, you must be killed." And this has to be done in front of everyone so people will know this will never again be tolerated in Iraq.

I am not suggesting the violence will stop if Saddam dies. However, if you don't kill him, and if the trial drags on and on and on, that will incite yet more violence.


First of all, for justice to be done these trials have to be fair. Regardless of how horrible the crimes they are charged with, the accused and their lawyers must have the ability and the means to conduct a vigorous and effective defence.

To impose the death penalty on these individuals will suggest business as usual in terms of cruel and inhuman punishment

If that doesn't happen, the process will deteriorate, I fear, into a political show trial. Show trials, while satisfying vengeance and the urge for retribution, are not tantamount to justice.

Now, should Saddam Hussein be found guilty, when it comes to his being executed the death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment that violates the right to life and the prohibition against torture. I know well how strongly many Iraqis feel about Saddam and others. But to impose the death penalty on these individuals will be a throwback to the ancien regime - it will suggest business as usual in terms of cruel and inhuman punishment.

I don't think the only way of removing him from the nightmares of the victims and survivors is to put him to death. I think he can be incarcerated in a manner that can preclude his ever returning to power.

Saddam Hussein being questioned by an investigative judge
Some fear Saddam's trial will not meet international standards
And if in fact Saddam Hussein is convicted, he must have the right to appeal. This is a fundamental condition of a fair trial. I would take strong exception to the proposal that conviction should lead to execution of sentence without the right to appeal.

Even the fairest of trials will not, in the short term, change the hearts and minds of the opponents of a new way of doing things. That being said, if the trial is conducted in a shoddy, shabby way, the effect sadly will be to delegitimise the process itself - it will give ammunition to those who say nothing has changed, and the only way to address complaints or articulate opposition is through violence.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific