Iraq: Beheading of civilian condemned, hostages must be released

The killing of prisoners is one of the most serious crimes under international law. It is a war crime, and if part of a deliberate and systematic attack against a civilian population, it would also constitute a crime against humanity.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Such acts are unjustifiable under any circumstances and constitute a serious crime under international law. Those responsible should be brought to justice in line with international standards.

Armed groups must release immediately and without any precondition all hostages, and should refrain from deliberately attacking, abducting and killing civilians.'

Political and community leaders in Iraq should exercise their influence to ensure an end to the taking and killing of hostages, said the human rights organisation.

Amnesty International believes that the cycle of violence in Iraq will only be broken if all parties fully respect international human rights standards.


A video posted on a website yesterday supposedly showed 26-year-old Nick Berg, an American businessman, being beheaded by the group. The group said his death was revenge for the ill-treatment of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in Iraq. Hundreds of civilians, Iraqis and foreigners, have been deliberately killed by armed groups or individuals in Iraq.

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