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USA/UK: Camp David summit must recognise international responsibility for Iraqi human rights

The human rights and humanitarian situation in Iraq is extremely fragile as a result of decades of brutal repression by the Iraqi authorities of dissent and uprisings, including widespread torture and executions; the impact of a decade of sanctions; and the possibility of civilian casualties, refugee outflows and reprisal killings in the event of military intervention.

Ahead of the Camp David meeting on Friday 31 January, Amnesty International is urging the two leaders to carefully weigh the possible cost of the conflict for human rights in Iraq and the neighbouring countries, and to take all measures to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan said:

'We all remember what happened in 1991. What leadership will President Bush and Prime Minister Blair demonstrate to ensure that the international community works together to prevent a rerun of that kind of a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe?' asked Irene Khan.

Amnesty International USA Executive Director William F. Schulz said:

'President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have a responsibility for the human rights of the people of Iraq, and they must discharge this obligation by ensuring that any action taken does not further violate those rights.'

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Tony Blair and George Bush need to be crystal clear on the need to plan for the protection of human rights both during and after any conflict.' Amnesty International reminded Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair that all sides in a conflict are obliged to respect fully international humanitarian law. The US and UK forces' terms of engagement must strictly enforce international humanitarian law - the 'laws of war' - and not, for instance, target military facilities if there is a disproportionate risk to civilians.

The organisation is also calling on the two leaders to clarify their stance on bringing Iraqi officials responsible for grave human rights violations to justice. This follows recent reports that the US may be considering impunity 'deals'.

'It is not for the US or the UK to determine who shall or shall not escape justice for human rights crimes in Iraq, 'said Irene Khan. 'Striking deals to guarantee immunity from prosecution for senior Iraqis would be a betrayal of the right of the Iraqi people to justice for gross human rights violations that they have suffered for years.'

More information is available online.

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