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UN rights chief calls for investigation into Iraq abuses

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged the US and Iraq to investigate and prosecute those responsible [statement] for alleged human rights abuses in Iraq after thousands of previously classified documents detailing torture [JURIST news archive] by US and Iraqi forces were posted on WikiLeaks [website]. Pillay said that the leaked documents suggest US forces killed more civilians than previously reported and that the US government continued to move prisoners into Iraqi custody even after learning about detainee abuse committed by Iraqi forces. The proposed investigation would promote compliance with international treaties:

The US and Iraqi authorities should take necessary measures to investigate all allegations made in these reports and to bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses, in line with obligations under international human rights law.
For example, the proposed investigation would respect the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text], which the US and Iraq have signed. Pillay also called on Iraq to sign the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and its Optional Protocol [text], which would allow UN officials to examine treatment of prisoners in the country.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called Saturday for the Iraqi and US governments to launch an investigation [JURIST report] and prosecute those responsible for alleged detainee abuse [JURIST news archive]. The group said the WikiLeaks reports detail the US military's failure to prevent abuses, including beatings, burnings and lashings, of Iraqi detainees at the hands of their captors. HRW's request for an investigation comes almost six months after the group reported on the repeated torture [JURIST report] of Iraqi detainees in a secret prison in Baghdad. Last week, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official website] also responded to the leaked documents, calling for the Obama administration to launch an inquiry [JURIST report] into the role of the US forces in the alleged human rights violations. He stated that the US is party to UN human rights treaties that compel the investigation of such allegations and the criminalization of any form of torture.

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