GENEVA  - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed shock Tuesday at Iraq's execution of 34 people and called for an immediate suspension of the death penalty there. Pillay said she was shocked at the lack of transparency over the executions, including two women, in Iraq last Thursday following their conviction for different crimes. The spokesman of Iraq's justice ministry, Haidar al-Saadi, confirmed to AFP in Baghdad that the executions took place, without elaborating. "I call on the government of Iraq to implement an immediate moratorium on the institution of the death penalty," Pillay said in a statement.

"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," said Pillay, a South African high court judge.

"Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure," she said.

The United Nations estimates that more than 1,200 people have been sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004, but it does not have comprehensive statistics on executions.

It has recorded at least 63 executions since November 16.

In Iraq, the death penalty can be applied to 48 types of crime, including damage to public property in some cases, according to the United Nations.