Highlights

 
Quotable
What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness god has given us in this world...
Robert E. Lee
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
October 12, 2007

US Asked to Curb Military Excesses in Iraq


by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations has asked the United States to help prevent military excesses by multinational troops and private security firms accused of using indiscriminate force against civilians in Iraq.

"The US government should take steps to ensure that offenses committed in Iraq by all categories of US contractor employees are subject to prosecution under the law," says a new 37-page report released Thursday by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The study, the eleventh in a quarterly series focusing on human rights in Iraq, urges "that all credible allegations of unlawful killings" by the multinational forces in Iraq be "thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigated."

Further, it asks US authorities to take "appropriate action against military personnel found to have used excessive or indiscriminate force."

"The initiation of investigations into such incidents, as well as their findings, should be made public," the report says.

It also urges the US authorities to investigate recent widespread reports of deadly violence by private security firms, including Blackwater USA, which resulted in the deaths of about 10 civilians.

The company, which has come under fire for its aggressiveness, is under contract to the US State Department.

UNAMI says it shares the views of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) "that private military firms must respect international humanitarian law."

The legal status of thousands of private contractors working in Iraq "remains unclear," according to the UNAMI report.

Although they are not considered employees of the US government, an order issued by the then US Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004 grants them immunity from prosecution within the Iraqi judicial system "with respect to acts performed by them pursuant to the terms and conditions of a contract of any sub-contract thereto."

Still, there are certain categories of contract employees who are subject to US military law under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Asked for comments from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters Thursday that UNAMI urges US authorities to investigate allegations of civilian deaths caused by privately hired contractors and establish effective mechanisms of accountability.

Responding to a question, she said the report, regrettably, does not include the casualty figures UNAMI has normally been reporting, based on official statistics. The government of Iraq, she pointed out, has stopped making such figures available.

Okabe said the United Nations will ask the Iraqi authorities to resume providing information from the Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute of Baghdad on detailed casualty figures.

In the report, the United Nations also accuses the Iraqi government of a rash of "serious and widespread" human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture of detainees, violations of the rule of law, ineffectiveness of the judiciary and irregularities in trial procedures.

The study says the ongoing violence in Iraq poses "enormous challenges" to the government of Iraq in its efforts to bring under control acts of violence motivated by sectarian considerations and criminal activity.

It also points out there have been 540 death sentences since 2004: 78 in 2004, 107 in 2005, 234 in 2006 and 121 through May 2007. Of these, 107 death sentences have been carried out after being upheld on appeal by the end of April.

According to Amnesty International, Kuwait had the highest number of executions per capita of population, followed by Iran. The other five countries with high rates of executions include China, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the United States.

While the security situation remains grave, the report urges the Iraqi government to do more to ensure better judicial oversight mechanisms for suspects arrested in the context of the ongoing Baghdad Security Plan.

It also calls on the authorities to immediately address reports of torture in Iraqi government facilities, as well as those of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The ongoing violence in Iraq and prevailing security condition has restricted UNAMI's ability "to directly assess incidents involving attacks on civilians and others by armed groups and governmental security forces."

As a matter of policy, UNAMI says it does not disclose information given in confidence and does not indicate sources of information unless consent is granted.

Many accounts relating to the human rights situation in Iraq are discounted where UNAMI is unable to verify the information through other sources or where the information is inconsistent with its own assessment of patterns of abuse, the study notes.

(Inter Press Service)


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Afghanistan, the Next US Quagmire?
    2/20/2009

  • Hamas Fights on Uneven Battlefield
    1/23/2009

  • UNRWA Chief Appalled at Israeli Destruction in Gaza
    1/21/2009

  • Israeli Attacks on Gaza Escape Global Media Scrutiny
    1/16/2009

  • Gaza Killings Trigger Call for War Crimes Probe
    1/14/2009

  • Aid Groups Dispute Israeli Claims in Gaza Attacks
    1/10/2009

  • US Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza
    1/9/2009

  • US Asked to Curb Military Excesses in Iraq
    10/12/2007

  • US Arms Sales Preserve Israel's Edge
    8/4/2007

  • US-India Nuke Deal May Spark Asian Arms Race
    8/1/2007

  • Lebanon Crisis Persists Despite Beefed-Up Peacekeeping
    7/7/2007

  • Is US Eyeing UN as Dumping Ground for Iraq?
    6/8/2007

  • UN Peacekeeping Budget Soars Sky High
    5/31/2007

  • US Faces Dilemma
    Over Thai Coup
    10/6/2006

  • UN Seeks Mostly Western Troops for Lebanon Force
    8/17/2006

  • Israel's Military Invincibility Dented by Hezbollah
    8/9/2006

  • US to Supply Food With One Hand, Arms With Other
    8/3/2006

  • Israel Violates US Law With Attack on Lebanon
    7/18/2006

  • US Gets a 'Dose of Its Own Medicine' From China
    7/13/2006

  • Iraq's Chairing of UN Rights Committee Faulted
    6/8/2006

  • US Promises Sri Lanka Aid Against Tamil Tigers
    1/24/2006

  • UN Probes Peacekeeping Contracts Fraud
    1/17/2006

  • Iran's Nuclear Dispute Sparks East-West Rivalry
    9/23/2005

  • Despite Growing Scandal, UN Chief Refuses to Yield
    9/8/2005

  • Asia, Eastern Europe Head for Showdown Over New UN Chief
    5/30/2005

  • US Ramps Up Arms Supplies to Repressive Regimes
    5/26/2005

  • UN Security Council Expansion Thrown into Disarray – Again
    4/13/2005

  • Saudis Break New Ground Eyeing Russian Weapons
    3/5/2005

  • UN Reversal: More Staff Bound for Iraq
    12/16/2004

  • Iraq Disputes UN Over Legitimacy of Election
    12/14/2004

  • UN Body Rejects Censure, Threatens Revolt
    11/25/2004

  • Human Rights Personnel Under Attack
    11/19/2004

  • UN Report Slams Use of Torture to Beat Terror
    11/12/2004

  • French Role in Côte d'Ivoire Questioned
    11/10/2004

  • UN Terrorism Treaty Deadlocked
    10/27/2004

  • US Wants UN Fig Leaf for Elections
    10/22/2004

  • Relief Agencies Jolted by Deaths in Sudan
    10/16/2004

  • Is Al-Jazeera the New Symbol of Arab Nationalism?
    10/13/2004

  • UN Unions Want Workers Out of Iraq
    10/7/2004

  • Mideast Arms Buyers Shun UN Register
    10/5/2004

  • Japan to Re-Launch Security Council Bid
    9/21/2004

  • UN Reluctant to Push Sanctions for Sudan
    9/17/2004

  • Rising Violence Deters UN Presence in Iraq
    9/15/2004

  • Under Attack in Afghanistan, UN Weighs Options
    9/14/2004

  • UN Chief Seeks 30,000 More Troops for Peacekeeping
    9/8/2004

  • UN Tries to Drag World Into Darfur
    9/3/2004

  • US-Backed Armies Firing Blanks
    9/2/2004

  • Credibility of Afghan Vote Threatened by Violence, Fraud
    8/21/2004

  • US Accounts for Global Surge in Military Spending
    8/18/2004

  • UN Says Its Absence in Iraq Could Jeopardize Fair Elections
    8/10/2004

  • UN Bureaucrats Angry Over Iraq's Refusal to Pay Dues
    8/6/2004

  • Humanitarian Groups: US, UK Subverting Afghan Relief Aid
    8/4/2004

  • No Troops Yet Offered for UN Force in Iraq
    7/28/2004

  • Regime Change in Iraq a Sham, Say Mideast Experts
    6/29/2004

  • US Abandons War Crimes Exemption
    6/23/2004

  • Aid Agencies Forced to Leave War Zones
    6/12/2004

  • One Down, US Seeks Second UN Resolution
    6/10/2004

  • UN's Integrity Questioned – Again
    6/5/2004

  • US Seeks Iraqi Nod for Continued Occupation
    6/3/2004

  • Security, Low Voter Registration Threaten Afghan Polls
    5/28/2004

  • UN: Bullies and Beggars
    5/28/2004

  • US Offers Iraq 'Sovereignty Lite'
    5/25/2004

  • US Wants One-Year Extension of UN Exemption from War Crimes Law
    5/21/2004

  • UN Warned of Death Trap in Iraq
    5/12/2004

  • Iraq Scandal Opens US to Charges of Double Standards
    5/8/2004
  •  

    Thalif Deen has been Inter Press Service's U.N. Bureau Chief since 1992. A
    former Information Officer at the U.N. Secretariat and a one-time member of
    the Sri Lanka delegation to the General Assembly sessions, he is currently
    editor of the Journal of the Group of 77, published in collaboration with
    IPS. A Fulbright-Hayes scholar, he holds a Master's degree in Journalism
    from Columbia University in New York.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com