Calls for capital punishment for online extortion

Legal expert advocates for reduced sentencing, general amnesty to solve prison overcrowding

BAGHDAD, November 16 — Legal and human rights expert Fadel Al-Ghraoui said on Wednesday that changes in sentencing and a general amnesty would provide an opportunity to reintegrate prisoners into society and alleviate overcrowding in prisons.

Al-Ghraoui, however, urged the death penalty for suspects convicted of online extortion, especially with the rise in suicides by young women victims of digital blackmail.

In a statement received by 964, Al-Ghraoui highlighted the significant increase in cases of women and girls falling victim to online extortion in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Extortion tactics vary, Al-Ghraoui said, from material and physical gain, to tarnishing victims’ reputation, exposing them on social media, and hacking accounts to steal personal information.

“Many girls, facing extortion from gangs and individuals, both inside and outside Iraq, have attempted suicide to escape the shame” he said.

Al-Ghraoui called on security authorities to restrict the sale of SIM cards to official outlets, implement strict controls and incorporate all subscriber accounts into a hacker-protected system. He emphasized the need to amend sentencing for online extortion to include the death penalty.

For other crimes, Al-Ghraoui said the large number of inmates and detainees in the prison system has led to significant overcrowding, with some facilities reaching a staggering 300 percent overcapacity.

Al-Ghraoui highlighted health-related challenges in the prison system, including the spread of diseases such as scabies and tuberculosis, along with delayed releases and suspicions of corruption in food supply.

“These challenges hinder the primary goal of prisons—rehabilitation—due to the inability to implement reform programs according to outlined plans,” he said.