> News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
> AI INDEX: MDE 14/088/2003     14 April 2003
> Iraq : Ensuring justice and accountability for human rights abuses
> Amnesty International called today for a comprehensive program to ensure
that those responsible for past and recent crimes under international law
and other human rights abuses in Iraq are brought to justice.
> In a new document released today, "Iraq: Ensuring justice for human rights
abuses", Amnesty International outlines the role of the UN commission of
experts and sets out fundamental principles which should govern any approach
to ensuring justice for abuses in Iraq. It outlines the need for reforming
the Iraqi criminal justice system, and reviews transitional and
complementary approaches that ought to be considered as part of a
comprehensive program to ensure justice.
> (View the document online, visit
http://click.topica.com/maaaZUPaaXmtJbb0iqnb/ )
> "The central pillar of such a program would be reforming the Iraqi
criminal justice system" Amnesty International said, "However, other
complementary and transitional judicial approaches will be needed, including
approaches involving the international community."
> Amnesty International calls for the urgent establishment of a United
Nations (UN) commission of experts to develop proposals for a program that
would address comprehensively the issue of justice in Iraq, in close
consultation with Iraqi civil society. The commission should begin work
immediately and could report in a matter of months.
> "A number of proposals for investigating and prosecuting alleged
perpetrators of human rights violations are being discussed at the moment",
Amnesty International noted. "However, no in-depth authoritative analysis of
the situation in Iraq has been carried out as yet. This is why expert advice
is essential."
> Amnesty International stresses that the UN has recognized expertise and
authoritativeness in this field. As such, the UN should play the leading
role in developing proposals for reforming the Iraqi criminal justice system
and could recommend transitional and complementary approaches in the
meantime, regardless of the arrangements made for governing Iraq.
> "Proposals for using US or UK tribunals are undesirable, since they risk
being perceived as victors' - justice. Certain proposals such as the use of
US military commissions, which are not even courts, would be grossly unfair
under international law," Amnesty International emphasized.
> Possible transitional approaches under consideration include an
international ad hoc tribunal and a mixed tribunal. Existing approaches
including universal jurisdiction, could make an important contribution, and
a regional tribunal should be examined. Amnesty International's report
discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches under
> Fundamental principles, drawn form international law, that must govern any
approach to justice in Iraq include:
> - independence and impartiality: any tribunal must be truly independent
from and pursue perpetrators solely on the basis of the evidence against
them and through a fair process, in accordance with international standards
for fair trial;
> - no selectivity: anyone suspected of having committed crimes in Iraq must
be brought to justice, regardless of rank, nationality, or any other such
> - no statue of limitations: grave abuses must be addressed regardless of
when they occurred.
> - no amnesties: there should be no amnesties, pardons or similar measures
for crimes under international law if such measures would prevent a
conclusive verdict and full reparations for victims;
> - fair trials: suspects should be brought to justice in proceedings that f
ully respect international law and standards for fair trial at all stages of
the proceedings;
> - no death penalty and torture: there should be no recourse to the death
penalty or other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, whatever
the circumstances;
> - reparation for victims: victims and their families must be accorded
effective means to obtain full reparation for the violations they have
> "Ensuring justice is fundamental for the countless victims of decades of
grave violations of human rights by Iraqi government agents, as well as the
victims of abuses committed by all parties in the course of several
conflicts, including the ongoing war. In order to be fair and effective, all
measures aimed at ensuring justice must be in full conformity with
international human rights law and standards," Amnesty International said.
> "Neither victims nor suspects should receive second class justice," the
organization concluded.
> ****************************************************************
> For the full text of the report "Iraq: Ensuring justice for human rights
abuses" please go to: http://click.topica.com/maaaZUPaaXmtJbb0iqnb/
> Current crisis and military action in Iraq, for further information please
visit Iraq Crisis home page http://click.topica.com/maaaZUPaaXmtKbb0iqnb/
> ****************************************************************
> You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main
> text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting
> Amnesty International and this footer remain intact. Only the
> list subscription message may be removed.
> ****************************************************************
> Past and current Amnesty news services can be found at
>  <http://www.amnesty.org/news/>. Visit <http://www.amnesty.org>
> for information about Amnesty International and for other AI
> publications. Contact amnestyis@amnesty.org if you need to get
> in touch with the International Secretariat of Amnesty
> International.