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Halt to use of landmines and cluster bombs in Iraq


FOR ATTENTION OF: CHIEFS OF STAFF

Friday 28 March FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Amnesty International calls for immediate halt to use of landmines and cluster bombs in Iraq

Amnesty International today called for an immediate cessation of the use of landmines and cluster bombs in Iraq, as reports emerge of the dropping of cluster bombs over Basra by US/UK forces and the continued laying by Iraq of anti-personnel mines and booby-traps in southern Iraq.

"The civilian death toll in this conflict may be needlessly increased by the use of these 'dumb weapons,' which scatter the peril of death or injury across large areas," said Rebecca Lineham, Campaign Manager for Amnesty International NZ. "The high risk of violating the prohibition on indiscriminate military attacks necessitates an immediate moratorium on the use of cluster weapons."

Both US and UK officials have refused to rule out the use of cluster bombs; the Department of Defense has stated that "it retains the right to use landmines," and there have been reports that Iraqi forces have laid landmines around the country.

Cluster bombs release numerous bomblets over a large area. At least 5% of these 'dud' bomblets do not explode upon impact, turning them into de facto anti-personnel mines because they continue to pose a threat to people, including civilians, who come into contact with them.

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa Treaty), which entered into force on March 1, 1999, forbids the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention and transfer of anti-personnel weapons. Neither the USA nor Iraq are parties to the treaty, which has been ratified by 131 states including the UK and Australia, and signed by 146.

ENDS


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