A Letter to Donald Rumsfeld

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Iraq, Saddam Hussein Views: 3874
3874

Dear Mr. Secretary: 
We are writing to you to express our concern following reports that you and other senior administration officials are discussing whether it might be preferable for United States forces to kill Saddam Hussein rather than capture him and make him stand trial. 

We recognize that there may be circumstances of armed confrontation with U.S. forces in which the former Iraqi president is killed. However, it should be the clear preferred policy of the United States to take Saddam Hussein into custody and to make him available to face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. We strongly urge you to state this publicly, at the earliest opportunity, and to instruct U.S. forces to carry out this policy to the extent possible. 

We acknowledge that bringing Saddam Hussein and other high officials in his government to justice for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity will invariably be a highly complex and politically charged process. It is nonetheless an essential step for several reasons. 

First, it is necessary to address the deep and widespread demand of Iraqis for accountability by their former leaders. On March 26, President Bush said that "the day of Iraq's liberation will also be a day of justice." That justice should take place in a forum that is competent, fair, impartial and independent, and seen as such in Iraq and beyond. Summary "justice" will not do. 

Second, as previous efforts such as Bosnia have shown, it is crucial to establish the primacy of the rule of law as a first step in reconstructing a society as traumatized by tyranny and war as that of Iraq. In this context, a policy that prefers to eliminate Saddam Hussein rather than compel him to face his victims and the evidence of his many crimes will severely test all other efforts to reestablish the rule of law in Iraq. Among other things, it will likely be read as a green light for Iraqis to take "justice" into their own hands-not only against officials of the former government but against anyone they perceive as having wronged them. 

Third, bringing Saddam Hussein before a competent and impartial court of law is without doubt the best way to convey to people outside Iraq, in the region and in the world, the horror of his systematic criminality. 

In addition, any U.S. decision to prioritize killing Saddam Hussein as an alternative to taking him into custody may well violate U.S. obligations under international law. First, under the Geneva Conventions, even if Saddam Hussein is considered an enemy combatant in circumstances governed by the rules of war, any offer of surrender that he might make must be respected. Second, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs situations of belligerent occupation, unless U.S. forces are facing hostilities they must exercise their responsibilities for public order and law enforcement in a manner that complies with international human rights law standards. In such instances, policing rather than armed conflict standards apply, and U.S. forces must use lethal force only when necessary to avert an imminent threat to the life of themselves or others. 

President Bush and other high officials have spoken often about the need for justice in Iraq. A policy that now looks for ways to avoid justice will badly undermine U.S. interests in Iraq and in the Middle East. To address Iraq's need for justice and to comply with U.S. obligations under international law, you should make clear that U.S. forces in Iraq will make every effort to bring Saddam Hussein to account in person.

Sincerely, 

Kenneth Roth
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

Source: www.hrw.org


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Iraq, Saddam Hussein
Views: 3874

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Older Comments:
SYED SALAMAH ALI MAHDI FROM SAUDI ARABIA said:
Ronald Dumsfeld is not the one who is going to make a decision on this Human Rights Watch request.It would be Poppy Bush, depending on how much he would lose by Saddam's disclosures in any fair and open trial.
2003-08-21

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
I fear Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) - not Saddam Hussein. If Saddam Hussein wishes to be taken into custody, my thinking is, he should basically be confined until current hostilities in Iraq have come to an end. I think the author has correctly indicated that our options - as invaders of a sovereign nation technically at peace when we commenced our invasion of it - would seem fairly limited.

After that, in my opinion, we (the invaders) would logically have no further say in the fate of Saddam Hussein - unless we were seemingly compelled to do otherwise. By that, I mean to suggest, we (the invaders) should not expect to participate in a subsequent judicial process - other than perhaps by giving testimony (if summoned to do so), offering to provide security, pledging to pay court costs, et cetera.

In the past few years I have come to believe that I ought to be embracing, promoting and supporting actions which ensure prosperity and security for those seeking peace for goodness' sake. To me, it would seem best (for me) to consider Islam to be a sort of "complete package" of requirements, if I would hope to receive a favorable sentence on the Last Day.

Assalamu alaikum.

--Yahya Bergum
2003-08-21

LYNNZAMAN FROM USA said:
I agree with this article, but I think this Administration, if you can even call it that anymore, ( more like a Repulican Mafia) does not care about ANYONE in America. They don't care if starving children line out streets in every city. As long as Halibuton, and all of their croonies loot the country of everything it ever had. I just hope that most people will eventually come to the same conclusion that I have. I concluded that WE must do something with a two pronged pitch fork. The first prong is to get out all the dirt on Bush. We did this by printing thousands of articles and leaving them in Hospital emergency rooms and laundry mats (where people do nothing but read). Next, we are campaigning our butts off for the election of Howard Dean. If the whole country gets behind one guy, we can get Rummy and the gang out and spent the rest of the decade cleaning up the Bush mess. Sad but true, this is the only way out of this mess that is legal.
2003-08-20

HANEEF YUSOFF FROM MALAYSIA said:
The US has bombed 23 countries, invaded other sovereign territories 216 times and has weapons of mass destruction in all categories.

Writing a letter to Donald Rumsfeld is like barking at a hill. There should not be diplomacy towards the US. They have supported the Israeli occupation of Palestine for forty years, meaning they are supporting terrorism.

Please do not waste any single second because we have seen Afghanistan, Iraq and what else do we want them to do?


Leave the UN, cease all links with US/UK and form a new union of all Islamic states and organisations under one umbrella.

Thank you.
2003-08-20

MADMAX FROM MAROC said:
Billion of people and I have a better idea, or rather exactly six words for the US forces and the US government "GET OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST" you are not welcome and will never be.

To allow a criminal like Saddam and the likes to stand trial is to incriminate all the US administrations starting from the Nixon administration.

The US government made it clear countless times that they are under no obligation of any international law, since recently they twisted arms in Bruxelles to exempt the US from any war crime court.

The US is a mad bull that one day will fall mortally wounded if the few decent (and dissent) people of the United States do not take back their country and honor their founding fathers by strictly adhering to what they had worked so hard for.

Billion of people and I have a better idea, or rather exactly six words for the US forces and the US government "GET OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST" you are not welcome and will never be.

To allow a criminal like Saddam and the likes to stand trial is to incriminate all the US administrations starting from the Nixon administration.

The US government(s) made it clear countless times that they are under no obligation of any international law, since recently they twisted arms in Bruxelles to exempt the US from any war crime court.

The US is a mad bull that one day will fall mortally wounded if the few decent (and dissent) people of the United States do not take back their country and honor their founding fathers by strictly adhering to what they had worked so hard for.

The current US administration is the worst and it is of bad news for you America
2003-08-20

MUHAMMAD TAJUDDIN FROM CANADA said:
In the context of the United States' conduct so far vis-a-vis Iraq,it is hard to imagine it listening to this message. The U.S. government under the influence of Mr. Rumsfeld and his neo-con cohorts have continually ignored the United Nations, and used its so-called "authority" only when it served their purposes. They will disregard it for another important reason: their own involvement in the wrongdoings of Saddam. They are on record for having helped him and supplied him the arms that reinforced his alleged criminality and prolonged his dictatorship. I am sure any fair trial of Saddam will also drag the U.S.A. into the court as an alleged accomplice, unless they decide to go ahead and become judge, jury and executioer in one.
2003-08-19

MUZ FROM MALAYSIA said:
This letter is USELESS and thanks for your concerned.

Dear Kenneth,
Did the war to Iraq is an answer to capture 55 people?

u just watching and watching without taking any accurate action!, thats why u called "Human Rights Watch"!
2003-08-19

ROMESH CHANDER FROM US said:
If US captures Sadam Hussain, I think they should hand him over to Iranian Ayatollahs; they would like to settle some of their scores with him before anybody else does.
2003-08-19

YARIISI FROM CANADA said:
Does the writer watches human rights violations or American interest violations? If he is for human rights, he should be advocating for bringing Rumsfield and Bush for the crimes they have committed against peoples' of Afghanistan and Iraq. They have slaughtered tenth of thousands of innocent Afghans and Iraqs,ontensibly, on the pretext of freedom and human, as well as fighting terrorism. All the attrocities committed by Saddam were perpetrated with the blessings of the American administrations, represented by Rumsfield at one time. If the writer believes in human rights, he should be talking about bringing Rumsfield and Bush to justice for their crimes against humanity.
2003-08-19