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US destroying Iraq with impunity

Press Esc | June 19, 2007

The United States and its allies are killing Iraqi civilians, stealing Iraq's oil and destroying the nation's heritage with total impunity, according to a report released jointly today by 30 NGOs which concluded that The US Coalition is the principal cause of Iraq's current ills.

The 117-page War and Occupation in Iraq reveals that the US has established broad legal immunity in Iraq for its military forces, for private security personnel, for foreign military and civilian contractors, and even for the oil companies doing business with Iraq and that no matter what crimes the Coalition commits, Iraqis now or in the future face legal barriers if they seek accountability.

US Presidential Executive Order 13303, Order 17 of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and other official dicta, shield foreign military personnel from arrest, detention, prosecution or punishment. While the US and its allies have applied limited legal reckoning in a few flagrant cases that became known to the public, punishment has been light and those with command responsibility have remained beyond the law, the report finds.

"There is an increasing air war that results in heavy casualties as well as the daily killing of civilians at checkpoints, during house searches, by snipers, and by ground bombardment," James Paul, executive director of the co-publisher Global Policy Forum, said. "Nearly a million Iraqis have died due to the effects of the occupation and 4 million have fled from their homes. A dozen cities have been destroyed by U.S. attacks."

"Under the control or influence of US authorities, public funds in Iraq have been drained by massive corruption and stolen oil, leaving the country unable to provide basic services and incapable of rebuilding," he added. "The US government has repeatedly violated many international laws, but top officials reject any accountability."

The study documents how the US and its allies ignored the warnings of organizations and scholars concerning the protection of Iraq's cultural heritage, including museums, libraries, archaeological sites and other precious repositories.

It also highlights the US Coalition forces' use of indiscriminate and especially injurious weapons that are banned by international convention or widely considered unacceptable and inhuman, including a napalm-type incendiary weapon as well as white phosphorous munitions, the latter against ground targets in densely populated areas.

More than thirty thousand detainees lack fundamental rights and they are kept in deplorable physical conditions, many for long periods. US commanders have turned over thousands of detainees to Iraqi authorities whose prisons seriously violate human rights standards, according to the report.

The authors describe how US Coalition forces have attacked and destroyed a number of important Iraqi cities, on grounds that they were “insurgent strongholds.”

A more serious allegation made by the NGOs is that US and its allies regularly kill Iraqi civilians at checkpoints and during military operations, on the basis of the merest suspicion.

The report also draw attention to the plight of Iraqi refugees and internally displaces persons, and the high levels of mortality recorded in the country due to deteriorating health services.

The study provides evidence on how, under the control or influence of US authorities, public funds in Iraq have been drained by massive corruption and stolen oil, leaving the country unable to provide basic services and incapable of rebuilding.

"Those that understate the violence of the occupation make U.S. forces look like the solution, when in fact they are a large part of the problem," Celine Nahory, Security Council Program Coordinator at Global Policy Forum and a co-author of the report, said. "Even polls by the US and UK governments show a large majority of Iraqis want a speedy withdrawal of occupation forces."

The report recommends the speedy withdrawal of the US Coalition forces as the only solution to the Iraqi crisis. It also calls for the Security Council to end the Coalition mandate at the earliest opportunity and plan for a stable transition in Iraq, respecting international law and introduce a A UN peacekeeping force, clearly distinct from the Coalition, to assist with the transition, by monitoring the ceasefire, strengthening local police forces and the judicial system, and organizing fully-credible elections.

 

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