Iraq/UK: Amnesty International urges Commons to press for human rights monitors

'If the government is suggesting there is a human rights and humanitarian case for intervening in Iraq then the House of Commons must take this opportunity to ask how best to address these human rights abuses - something we have been drawing to the attention of the international community for decades,' said Kate Allen, UK director, Amnesty International. 'The government should be pressing the UN to implement its own recommendation, made as recently as December 2002, of putting human rights monitors in place.

'Human rights monitors should be able to act independently, report to the UN and make recommendations in order that human rights violations can be tackled in an effective and systematic way, not only now but also in any future scenario.'

Amnesty International wrote to the UN security council on Friday 7 February 2003 urging it to consider the likely effects of military action on the overall human rights and humanitarian situation of the Iraqi population, a potential refugee crisis and the risk of grave violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks on civilians.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the current human rights and humanitarian situation in Iraq may rapidly deteriorate in case of military action. In particular, there is a risk of renewed human rights abuses by the Iraqi authorities, armed opposition groups, the parties involved in the military operations, and reprisals on ethnic or other grounds. There is therefore a clear need for close scrutiny of, and expert advice on, the human rights situation in Iraq.

Further information about Iraq and the current crisis is available online at: http://web.amnesty.org/web/content.nsf/pages/gbr_iraq

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