First Published: 2003-11-18

Iraq's Turki criticises coalition 'violations'

Human rights minister say Iraqis, wrongfully treated after May 1, have right to demand compensation from coalition.


Middle East Online

By Joelle Bassoul - BAGHDAD

Coalition is accused of aggression, maltreatment and homicide against detainees

Iraq's interim Human Rights Minister Abdel Basset Turki has criticised alleged violations against Iraqis by US-led forces occupying the war-torn country.

Heading a ministry that did not exist under former leader Saddam Hussein's regime, Turki said that "there are violations under the occupation."

"We have demanded the Americans come to terms with their acts because the Iraqi people, who have suffered enough, cannot bear anymore," he said.

"The interim Governing Council has dealt with the issue directly with the coalition saying it cannot remain silent on this phenomenon that is spreading.

"The Americans know that this can no longer continue. If they want to build a democratic society here, the first steps must be right", said Turki.

In a statement distributed last week, the American military reiterated that it was the "responsibility of all coalition forces to treat all people with dignity and respect."

The text cited nine cases against the military accusing it of "aggression", "maltreatment" and "homicide" against detainees.

A court martial hearing began Tuesday in Tikrit, north of Baghdad where a lieutenant colonel was charged with beating an Iraqi detainee, in the first legal proceedings to be reported against such a high-ranking US officer in Iraq.

Lieutenant-Colonel Allen West is charged on three counts, for beating Yahya Jhodri Hamoody, threatening to kill him and firing his gun near the detainee's head during interrogation on August 20.

According to the minister, Iraqis have the right to demand compensation from the coalition.

But, he said, "coalition forces will not compensate those wrongfully treated before May 1," when US President George W. Bush declared an end to major hostilities in Iraq.

"We consider that Iraqis wronged ... have the right to compensation from the coalition, as stipulated by UN resolution 1483 on the occupation force," Turki said.

"If we don't reach an understanding ... we will have to resort to justice," he said.

The only people eligible for compensation since May 1 are those who have lost a relative one or had property destroyed by US forces.

In September, the US-led coalition said it had paid out around one million dollars in compensation for Iraqis killed, injured or whose property was damaged by occupying troops.

Since October 30, US forces have received more than 8,000 complaints, of which 3,327 have been compensated with a total of 1.3 million dollars, the American military said.

Turki also said that political prisoners should have certain rights and that his ministry has demanded to visit all 55 Iraqis most wanted by the American forces, which have so far captured 38 of them.

"The coalition responded saying those persons are prisoners of war and ... that the only party that can visit them and hand over letters is the Red Cross," he said, adding not all 55 are prisoners of war and that the coalition cannot forbid visits to civilian prisoners.


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