(Geneva, March 24, 2003) - The United Nations Commission on Human Rights should convene a special sitting to monitor human rights during the conflict in Iraq, Human Rights Watch urged in a letter to the Commission chair today.
The Commission, which is the United Nations' major human rights forum, began its annual meeting in Geneva this week. The Commission has in the past held special debates in response to human rights crises in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Chechnya, East Timor, and Israel and the Occupied Territories.
"The Commission on Human Rights should act now to protect human rights both during and after the war," said Joanna Weschler, U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch. "It should establish a monitoring presence inside Iraq as soon as conditions permit."
Human Rights Watch warned that the current war may have devastating consequences for the civilian population of Iraq:
Human Rights Watch said the Commission should insist upon full, prompt and impartial investigations of any allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. The Commission could put its own investigative experts on stand-by or request the Secretary-General to appoint an international commission of experts for this purpose.
Human Rights Watch also urged the Commission to request the establishment of a human rights monitoring presence inside Iraq at the first opportunity. The Commission and U.N. General Assembly have called for such monitors for many years, but Iraqi authorities never agreed to the proposal.
Read Human Rights Watch's letter at: http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/03/un032103ltr.htm