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Iraq: courts trying past crimes must be fair

Iraq: Any court to try past crimes must be fair and seen to be fair

Amnesty International today stressed the need for ensuring fairness in any trial proceedings against members of the former Iraqi government, in reaction to the reported announcement today by the Provisional Governing Council of Iraq that it intended to set up a special court for crimes under the previous government.

"Perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and other crimes committed under the previous Iraqi government must be brought to justice," Amnesty International said. "In order to ensure that, their trial must be fair and seen to be fair, conducted by an impartial and independent court fully in accordance with international human rights standards."

Amnesty International has recommended that Iraqi judicial experts work together with international experts to assess the situation of the Iraqi judicial system, including its capacity to ensure fair trials in the short term, and explore options for bringing perpetrators to justice. These options could include the participation of non-Iraqi judges, for example from other Arab countries and elsewhere, in proceedings against perpetrators of past crimes (Iraq: Ensuring justice for human rights abuses AI INDEX: MDE 14/080/2003, full report online at ).

"We understand that a judicial commission is being set up by the Provisional Governing Council to look into the establishment of a special court, and we are seeking further details about it. We would urge this commission to take Amnesty International's recommendations into account," the organization said.

Whatever system is chosen, it must ensure respect for international human rights standards. Specific issues that will need to be addressed in accordance with such standards include the definition of the crimes; the trial procedures; the definition of the punishments, which should not include the death penalty; the criteria for selecting the judges and prosecutors; and the protection of judges, prosecutors and witnesses.

Take action! Tell the US and UK: oil revenues must be used to secure rights of all Iraqis. Please visit

For the full text of the report "Iraq: Ensuring justice for human rights abuses please go to:

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