UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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UN RIGHTS EXPERT CALLS ON COALITION AUTHORITIES TO ALLOW IRAQI DETAINEES TO CHALLENGE LAWFULNESS OF DETENTION

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5 May 2004

The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Le´la Zerrougui, issued the following statement today:

“The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention expresses her serious concern regarding the uncertainty of the legal status of many detainees currently subjected to interrogation in Iraq, in the context of reports of torture of people in detention by United States and United Kingdom military officers serving under the Coalition Provisional Authority.

According to the information received by the Working Group, the majority of persons in detention in Iraq have been arrested during public demonstrations, at checkpoints and in house raids. They are being considered “security detainees” or “suspected of anti-Coalition activities”. The Working Group’s Chairperson-Rapporteur is seriously disturbed by the fact that these persons have not been granted access to a court to be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention, as required by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9).

The Working Group calls upon the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council to allow the clarification of the legal status of each person detained in Iraq and to apply the rules and norms enshrined in Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 9 and 14 of the civil and political rights Covenant.

The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention calls upon the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Iraqi Governing Council and all countries with military forces serving in Iraq to respect the principles and norms of international human rights law and, in the case of persons entitled in principle to prisoner-of-war status, to the norms and principles of international humanitarian law, as enshrined in the Geneva Conventions of 1949”.

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