NEW YORK - June 9 - The Bush Administration is committing war crimes and other serious violations of international law in Iraq as a matter of routine policy, according to a report released today by the Center for Economic and Social Rights. The report, "Beyond Torture: U.S. Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq," documents ten categories of war crimes and rights violations regularly committed by U.S. forces. It can be accessed at http://www.cesr.org/beyondtorture.pdf.
"Torture is only the tip of the iceberg," said Roger Normand, an international lawyer who directs the Center. "From unlawful killings, mass arrests, and collective punishment to outright theft and pillage, the U.S. is violating almost every law intended to protect civilians living under foreign military occupation."
The report blames the Bush Administration for misusing the war against terrorism to exempt itself from the Geneva Conventions and other legal norms, creating a climate of impunity in which ordinary soldiers feel free to torture and abuse Iraqis. Rather than scapegoat those caught on camera, the report recommends that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other responsible U.S. officials be held accountable for war crimes resulting from their policies.
According to the report, these crimes are so entrenched in U.S. policies towards Iraq that they will end only when the occupation itself is ended. This would require withdrawal of U.S. troops and an end to U.S. control over Iraq's political, economic and military affairs. Absent these fundamental changes, the purported June 30th "transfer of sovereignty" to Iraqi authorities is "a form of political theatre with no legal effect" on U.S obligations as an occupying power, notwithstanding the diplomatic fig leaf provided by yesterday's UN Security Council resolution.
"Under international law, continued military occupation is incompatible with self-determination," said Mr. Normand. "For the Security Council to legitimize as sovereign an Iraqi government hand-picked by the U.S.-as Washington sends more troops to occupy Iraq-merely proves that the UN cannot defend its own Charter against American pressure."
CESR is an international human rights organization that has organized numerous human rights fact -finding missions to Iraq since 1991. CESR is accredited to the United Nations and supported by the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation.