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Iraq: Military Justice System
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Regular Armed Forces > Military Justice System


Both political offenders and ordinary criminal offenders in the armed forces were tried in the military courts, but Iraq's military courts had no jurisdiction over civilians accused of security-related crimes. Such cases were reviewed by revolutionary courts. Military tribunals were held in camera and were often summary in nature. Although little information was available in early 1988, observers believed that the system of military justice differed little from the system in operation at the time of the 1968 Baath Revolution. At that time a permanent military court of at least five members was usually established at each division headquarters and wherever large concentrations of nondivision troops were stationed. In addition, emergency military courts could be set up in combat areas to expedite the trial of offenders there. Such courts usually consisted of three members, a president with the rank of lieutenant colonel and two members with the rank of major or above.

The highest court was the Military Court of Cassation, which sat in Baghdad. It was appointed by the minister of defense and was composed of a president with the rank of brigadier general or above and two members with the rank of colonel or above. Appeals from the sentences of lower military courts were heard in the Military Court of Cassation; it also conducted trials of the first instance of senior officers.

A number of changes were introduced into the Penal Code of the Popular Army since 1980. Law No. 32 of 1982, for example, made several offenses by service personnel punishable by death. In its 1985 report, Amnesty International noted that RCC Resolution No. 1370 reaffirmed the death penalty for various offenses. These included fleeing or defaulting from military service, conspiring against the state, espionage, and joining the Ad Dawah al Islamiyah (the Islamic Call), commonly referred to as Ad Dawah.

Data as of May 1988

Last Updated: May 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iraq was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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