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April 1, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
U.N. Expert Urges Monitors for Iraq
United Nations Should Send Human Rights Monitors to Iraq As Soon As Allowable, Expert Says

The Associated Press


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GENEVA April 1

The United Nations should send human rights monitors to Iraq as soon as the security situation allows it, a U.N. expert said Tuesday.

"I would go tomorrow if the circumstances allowed it," Andreas Mavrommatis told a session of the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission. "There is a lot to be gained by a U.N. presence in Iraq in the future in the field of human rights."

The Cypriot specialist presented a 15-page report on the rights situation in Iraq during the commission's annual six-week session.

The report was prepared before the start of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, and makes no direct reference to the conflict. But in his speech, Mavrommatis urged both sides to "scrupulously observe international humanitarian law and shield the civilian population from the consequences of war."

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has appealed for $1.6 million to send observers to Iraq "when conditions permit," spokesman Jose Diaz said Tuesday.

Mavrommatis said his recommendations were similar to those in earlier reports.

Last year, he urged Iraq to adopt a moratorium on executions, reduce the number of crimes that carry the death penalty and improve prison conditions. He also criticized discrimination against Iraq's Kurds and Shiite Muslims, who have suffered under Saddam Hussein's rule.

Cooperation with Iraq was "a slow, painstaking process," Mavrommatis said. Baghdad's replies to his questions and recommendations "are at times incomplete and unsatisfactory."

Mavrommatis was appointed in 1999 and visited the country for the first time in February 2002 at the invitation of Iraqi authorities.

Iraqi Ambassador Samir al-Nima said the report was influenced by "unwarranted and unjustified political considerations," and failed to address violations by coalition forces attacking Iraq.

He said Baghdad had cooperated properly but Mavrommatis had relied too heavily on "information from sources hostile to Iraq."

Mavrommatis told reporters later that he was "steering clear of politics," saying he deplored both civilian deaths and suicide attacks on coalition forces.

Mavrommatis said he had taken a less confrontational approach than other U.N. experts in an attempt to enlist the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities. He said that approach led to the general amnesty last October that freed 25,000 Iraqi inmates, after he had urged the step as a way to ease appalling prison conditions.


photo credit and caption:
U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis, speaks to the media after the 59th session of the Commission on Human Rights at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, April 1, 2003. (AP Photo/Laurent Gillieron)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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