Saturday, June 05, 2004

Calling a spade a spade

A report by the UN's Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights has for the first time called a spade a spade and accused the US of committing war crimes in Iraq.

The report lays the charge in relation to two areas: the "willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment" of prisoners, and the detention of family members and destruction of the homes of suspected insurgents. And it is quite mild, saying merely that "the above-described acts might be designated as war crimes by a competent tribunal".

No shit, Sherlock.

No doubt the American bloggers will be screaming at this, but the report overall seems quite fair. It emphasises the good intentions of Coalition forces, and acknowledges that the US is taking steps to prosecute those involved. It is more aimed at ensuring that such crimes never happen again, "addressing the legacy of brutal authoritarian rule", and establishing a proper human rights framework for Iraq, than with specifically calling the US to account. And there's plenty of caveats like this:

At the same time, it has to be recognized that the Iraqi people have been relieved of the massive, systematic and institutionalized violations of human rights that took place under the preceding regime, and that they now have the prospect of arranging for their own democratic governance under the rule of law and in the spirit of international human rights norms.

So, really, I don't think the US has anything to complain about.

Those who are interested can read the full report here:

Report of the High Commissioner : The Present Situation of Human Rights in Iraq [Advance unedited version]