Story highlights

Iraq has executed more than 120 people in the past 12 months

Human Rights Watch and the U.N. voice concern at the high numbers

Iraq is on course to become the country with the 3rd highest rate of executions

Baghdad CNN  — 

Iraqi authorities executed 10 prisoners Sunday for terrorism convictions, the Ministry of Justice announced.

The prisoners – nine Iraqis and one Egyptian – were put to death in the latest of several executions carried out by Iraqi authorities in recent months, despite a United Nations call for restraint.

“The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council,” the ministry said in a statement.

Since November of 2011, more than 120 people have been executed in Iraq, according to a CNN tally. Sixty-five of them were put to death in the first 40 days of 2012.

“The Iraqi authorities’ insistence on carrying out this outrageous string of executions, while unwilling to reveal all but the barest of information, underlines the opaque and troubling nature of Iraq’s justice system,” Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement last month.

“Rather than executing people, Iraq should focus on reforming its security and judicial systems to protect its citizens from increasing human rights violations.”

Stork noted that the country does have legitimate security concerns, “but arbitrarily executing prisoners will not make the country safer.”

“State sanction of executions only adds to violence in the society. If it continues at this rate, Iraq will soon be the third most prolific user of the death penalty in the world,” he added.

Earlier this year, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was shocked at the reports of mass executions in Iraq – in particular a day in January, when 34 people were put to death. “Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day,” Pillay said then.