Iraq: leaked files point to serious breaches of human rights law – UN rights chief

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

26 October 2010 – Leaked classified United States documents on the war in Iraq point to serious breaches of international human rights law, including summary executions of a large number of civilians, as well as torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said today.

The files, according to a statement by Navi Pillay’s office, indicate that the US knew about the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by Iraqi forces, but proceeded with transferring thousands who had been detained by US forces into Iraqi custody between early 2009 and July 2010.

They also allegedly include information on many undisclosed instances in which US forces killed civilians at checkpoints and during operations.

US and Iraqi authorities, Ms. Pillay said, should take necessary measures to investigate all allegations made in these reports and to bring those behind unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious rights abuses to justice in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which both nations are parties, and other obligations.

She called on Iraq to ratify the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol, which gives a UN committee the right to visit all places of detention and examine the treatment of detainees.

The official also urged the Iraqi Government to facilitate visits of human rights teams with the UN mission in the country, known as UNAMI, to monitor the rights situation in detention facilities so that advice and assistance can be given to Iraqi authorities.

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