Press Release

Situation of civilians in Falluja, Iraq

16 November 2004

(Read out today by José Luis Díaz, Spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the regular press briefing held at the United Nations Office at Geneva, 16 November 2004):

The High Commissioner is deeply concerned about the situation of civilians caught up in the ongoing fighting in Falluja. There have been a number of reports during the current confrontation alleging violations of the rules of war designed to protect civilians and combatants. The High Commissioner is particularly worried over poor access by civilians still in the city to the delivery of humanitarian aid and about the lack of information regarding the number of civilians casualties.

The High Commissioner considers that all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be investigated and those responsible for breaches -- including deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons and the use of human shields -- must be brought to justice, be they members of the Multinational Force or insurgents.

The High Commissioner calls on parties in the fighting to take every possible precaution to protect civilians.