Iraq: Coalition forces must restore law and order

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said:

'The Coalition forces have a responsibility to do everything in their power to protect the rights of all people in Iraq.

'As an occupying power, coalition forces must urgently take measures to enforce law and order in the areas under their control. They should specifically prevent looting, destruction, and violence against people.'

The US and UK authorities were warned in advance of the conflict by Amnesty International and other organisations of the risk that the fall of the Iraqi regime could lead to widespread disorder and serious human rights violations such as reprisal killings.

In addition, the health situation in Iraq is now very critical with many hospitals, especially in Baghdad, unable to deal with the very high number of casualties. Access to health care and medicines is becoming very difficult as stocks are running low. There are acute shortages of badly needed drugs such as pain-killers, antibiotics and anaesthetics.

Kate Allen added: 'The Coalition forces also have an obligation to ensure that people in areas under their control have food and medical supplies. They must maintain the medical and hospital services, public health and hygiene.'

Background

Art.43, Hague Regulations spells out the specific responsibilities of occupying powers under international humanitarian law. These include the duty to restore and maintain public order and safety.

Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that 'to the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying power has the duty to ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.'

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