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II. Recommendations

All armed forces in Iraq—insurgent groups, Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led Multi-National Force—are bound to respect international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. The law imposes on these warring parties legal obligations to reduce unnecessary suffering and to protect civilians and other non-combatants.

Previous Human Rights Watch reports have documented abuses by the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and made recommendations to address those abuses.2

In this report, Human Rights Watch calls on insurgent groups active in Iraq to:

  • Cease all attacks against civilians, the civilian population and civilian objects, both Iraqi and non-Iraqi. Civil servants, politicians, religious leaders, humanitarian aid workers, journalists and civilian employees of foreign governments are immune from attack;
  • Cease all attacks that do not discriminate between combatants and civilians, and attacks that cause harm to civilians or civilian objects that is excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage;
  • Take all feasible precautionary measures during military operations to verify that objectives to be attacked are not civilian but military, and take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack to avoid or minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects;
  • Take all necessary steps to ensure that insurgent group members understand and respect the obligation to protect civilians and captured combatants;
  • Refrain from an attack when it becomes apparent the objective or target is not a military one or where civilian loss would be disproportionate;
  • Give special attention to the potential of civilian harm when operating in residential areas;
  • Cease any and all abductions and hostage taking of civilians. All civilians currently in detention should be released;
  • Treat all detainees from the multinational and Iraqi forces humanely. Prohibit and prevent the execution, torture and other ill-treatment of detainees; and
  • Discipline or expel fighters or commanders who unlawfully detain or mistreat any person in custody, or who target civilians or use indiscriminate or disproportionate force that unnecessarily harms civilians.

Human Rights Watch calls on political, cultural and religious leaders in Iraq and other countries who have expressed support for the insurgency to:

  • Publicly condemn the abduction and hostage-taking of Iraqi and non-Iraqi civilians by any insurgent group;
  • Publicly condemn any insurgent group for targeted attacks against civilians and civilian objects;
  • Publicly condemn any insurgent group for indiscriminate attacks or attacks causing disproportionate civilian casualties; and
  • Publicly condemn any insurgent group for the mistreatment of those in its custody.

[2] Other relevant Human Rights Watch reports on Iraq are: Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, September 2005; Getting Away with Torture: Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees, April 2005; The New Iraq: Torture and Ill-treatment of Detainees in Iraqi Custody, January 2005; Claims in Conflict: Reversing Ethnic Cleansing in Northern Iraq, August 2004; The Road To Abu Ghraib, June 2004; Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq, December 2003; Hearts and Minds: Post-war Civilian Casualties in Baghdad by U.S. Forces, October 2003; Climate of Fear: Sexual Violence and Abduction of Women and Girls in Baghdad, July 2003; Violent Response: the U.S. Army in al-Falluja, June 2003; and Basra: Crime and Insecurity Under British Occupation, June 2003.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>October 2005