I am glad to hear that the UN's senior human rights officer in Iraq, Ivana Vuco, has boldly spoken out about the need to hold contractors in Iraq accountable to international law:
[Vuco] told a news conference that private security contractors were still subject to international humanitarian law and that meant there were specific consequences for any breach.
"Investigations as to whether or not crimes against humanity, war crimes, are being committed and obviously the consequences of that is something that we will be paying attention to and advocating for," she told a news conference.
Even if BushCo would never turn these people over to an international trial, it is of crucial importance to human rights law, and historical and cultural memory, that a record be built and the rule of law followed.
The U.N. also stressed that there is a major humanitarian crisis going--Iraqi refugees now number over 2 million and the internally displaced persons also over 2 million:
Incessant violence throughout Iraq is forcing an estimated 60,000 people to leave their homes every month, presenting the international community with a humanitarian crisis even larger than the upheaval aid agencies had planned for during the 2003 war.
UNHCR estimates that more than 4.4 million Iraqis have left their homes. Of these, some 2.2 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2.2 million have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria and Jordan. Many were displaced prior to 2003, but an increasing number are fleeing now. In 2006, Iraqis had become the leading nationality seeking asylum in Europe.
UNHCR (I urge you to explore that website, UNHCR's "The Iraq Situation"--excellent resource and information.)
Human Rights Watch has long been concerned about this problem, and it is now reaching emergency levels:
"It really is the critical point," said Arikat [U.N. mission spokesman in Iraq], who visited a camp in southern Iraq recently. "It is one of the most appalling places for human beings to be anywhere.
"It is shameful and the international community needs to address this issue. It is past urgent," he said.
Our illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has unleashed a spiral of violence, caused untold suffering, destabilized the region, and the world, undermined the ideals of democracy, freedom, and human rights protection.
U.S. Out of Iraq now. Have you contacted your congresscritters today?
UPDATE: h/t dantyrant
The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Blackwater USA on behalf of Iraq victims' families:
On October 11, 2007, a legal team including the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sued Blackwater USA, the private military contractor whose heavily armed personnel allegedly opened fire on innocent Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on Sept. 16.
The suit was filed on behalf of an injured survivor and three families of men killed in the incident, according to the legal team representing the civilians. The case was brought be the Center for Constitutional Rights and the firms of Burke O’Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, P.C.
Filed in Washington, D.C. federal court by Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the deceased men – Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem – the lawsuit claims that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated U.S. law and "created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life."
The complaint alleges that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing extrajudicial killing and war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision.
UPDATE 2: h/t The Maven here is a link to the complaint (17 page PDF).
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