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Iraq: Annan Disturbed By Images Of POW Humiliation

Annan 'Deeply Disturbed' By Media Images Of Iraqi Prisoners Being Mistreated

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is "deeply disturbed" by images appearing in the media of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated and humiliated by United States prison guards, his spokesman said today.

The Secretary-General "hopes that this was an isolated incident and welcomes what appears to be a clear determination on the part of the US military to bring those responsible to justice, and to prevent such abuses in the future," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

On Wednesday the CBS programme 60 Minutes II first aired a report about alleged abuses occurring at the Abu Gharib prison in Iraq.

"In all circumstances, and in all places, the Secretary-General is strongly opposed to the mistreatment of detainees," Mr. Eckhard told the daily briefing. "He reiterates that all detainees should be fully protected in accordance with the provisions of international human rights law."

When asked by reporters yesterday about the programme, Mr. Eckhard said, "The kinds of things discussed there, the abuse of prisoners, could be the kind of thing that would be investigated or would be included in a report on human rights in Iraq that the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights [Bertrand Ramcharan] said last Friday he intended to produce."

Mr. Ramcharan's remarks came at the closing session of the Commission on Human Rights, when he said he would initiate a report on rights and armed conflict in Iraq after the Commission had puzzlingly excluded it in its decisions.

"It is a perplexing and troubling omission. There must be accountability in warfare. At this point in time there is no international monitoring of the human rights situation in Iraq, whether it be in respect of terrorism or in respect of the use of force and the treatment of civilians," he said.

Conflicts are prevalent in the world and the Commission had effectively elaborated a policy on ensuring respect for human rights and humanitarian during armed conflicts, he said.

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