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To the United States and Other Coalition Governments

The Use of Force:

Under international humanitarian law, the occupying powers in Iraq are obligated to restore and ensure public order and safety. The means used to achieve security must conform with international humanitarian law and human rights standards. As such, the governments of the occupying coalition should ensure that:

  • In law enforcement situations, U.S. and other coalition forces should use law enforcement means. In such situations, military forces should abide by the standards set forth in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and be provided with the equipment and training necessary for this purpose.
  • U.S. and coalition governments deploy an adequate number of soldiers, military police or constabulary units trained in international law enforcement standards, and provide these units with the resources and equipment to meet Iraq’s postwar law enforcement needs.
  • U.S. and other coalition security forces not use firearms in policing situations, except where this is strictly necessary to defend coalition personnel or others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury. Whenever firearms are used, great care should be taken not to inflict injury on civilians.
  • When there are exchanges of fire, coalition security forces avoid disproportionate harm to civilians or civilian objects.
  • The U.S. government provides compensation to victims of unlawful use of force by U.S. security personnel where this has caused death, disablement, injury or destruction of property.
  • U.S. Army soldiers and other coalition forces be trained to defuse tense non-combat situations without resorting to lethal force. Lethal force should be used only when necessary to meet an imminent threat to life and only in proportion to the actual danger presented in conformity with international standards.
  • Coalition forces in Iraq be equipped with adequate crowd control devices to provide non-lethal alternatives to crowd control.
  • Efforts to enhance communication with local communities should be intensified, starting with adequate provision of interpreters.
  • Law enforcement officials from the coalition, as well as Iraqi police, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.

Whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall:

  • Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense and the legitimate objective to be achieved;
  • Minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life;
  • Ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment;
  • Ensure that relatives or close friends of the injured or affected persons are notified at the earliest possible moment.

At Checkpoints:

  • Treat everybody with humanity and respect for cultural sensitivities. In particular, practices like putting feet on civilians heads should be avoided unless strictly necessary to establish control.
  • Take further steps to better mark checkpoints with lights and large signs in Arabic.
  • Provide soldiers at checkpoints with basic instruction in Arabic commands and hand signals to help them communicate better with civilians.
  • Have interpreters available at all checkpoints at all times.
  • Deploy female soldiers to search Iraqi women.
  • Initiate a public service campaign to inform Iraqi civilians about proper behavior at checkpoints. Although the Rules of Engagement are not public, the civilians should have knowledge of the basic guidelines to avoid danger.

On Raids:

  • Whenever possible, conduct raids together with Iraqi police.
  • Provide sufficient interpreters for U.S. soldiers.
  • Provide U.S. soldiers with non-lethal devices, such as stun guns and rubber bullets.
  • Avoid verbal and physical abuse as well as destruction of the premises during a search. Provide compensation for damaged property.


  • Provide additional training in policing methods to combat troops who are performing law enforcement tasks, such as the 82nd Airborne and the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad.


  • Monitor and track civilian casualties throughout Iraq. Military authorities should keep records, observe and analyze trends related to specific units and commanders, as well as tactics, in order to minimize civilian casualties.
  • Military authorities should investigate all credible allegations of unlawful killings by coalition soldiers, and take appropriate administrative or criminal action against soldiers and commanders found to have used or tolerated the use of excessive or indiscriminate force.
  • Make the investigation process more transparent by announcing the cases under investigation and publicizing the results.
  • Investigations should be thorough, prompt and impartial. Consideration should be given to cases where complaints by relatives or other reliable reports suggest unnatural death in circumstances different than combat. The investigation shall be to determine the cause, and circumstances of the death or injury, those responsible, and any patterns or practices which may result in the violation of the rights of Iraqi civilians.
  • Investigations should include a collection and analysis of all physical and documentary evidence and statements from witnesses. The investigation should distinguish between natural death, accidental death, suicide and homicide.

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October 2003