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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 09:38 GMT
Iraq dossier: Key claims at-a-glance
The dossier's introduction:
Iraq is a terrifying place to live. People are in constant fear of being denounced as opponents of the regime.
They are encouraged to report on the activities of family and neighbours. The security services can strike at any time. Arbitrary arrests and killings are commonplace.
Between three and four million Iraqis, about 15% of the population, have fled their homeland rather than live under Saddam Hussein's regime.
These grave violations of human rights are not the work of a number of overzealous individuals but the deliberate policy of the regime.
Fear is Saddam's chosen method for staying in power. This report, based on the testimony of Iraqi exiles, evidence gathered by UN rapporteurs and human rights organisations, and intelligence material, describes the human cost of Saddam Hussein's control of Iraq.
It examines in turn Iraq's record on torture, the treatment of women, prison conditions, arbitrary and summary killings, the persecution of the Kurds and the Shia, the harassment of opposition figures outside Iraq and the occupation of Kuwait.
The United Nations Security Council and the UN Commission on Human Rights have repeatedly, over many years, condemned Iraq's human rights record. But Iraq continues to flout UN resolutions and to ignore its international human rights commitments.
On 19 April 2002, the UN Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution drawing attention to "the systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror."
Torture is systematic in Iraq. The most senior figures in the regime are personally involved.
Saddam Hussein runs Iraq with close members of his own family and a few associates, most of whom come from his hometown of Tikrit.
These are the only people he feels he can trust. He directly controls the security services and, through them and a huge party network, his influence reaches deep into Iraqi society.
All real authority rests with Saddam and his immediate circle. Saddam is head of state, head of government, leader of Iraq's only political party and head of the armed forces.
Saddam presides over the all-powerful Revolutionary Command Council, which enacts laws and decrees and overrides all other state institutions.
Several RCC decrees give the security agencies full powers to suppress dissent with impunity.
An RCC decree of 21 December 1992 guarantees immunity for Ba'ath party members who cause damage to property, bodily harm and even death when pursuing enemies of the regime.
Saddam has, through the RCC, issued a series of decrees establishing severe penalties (amputation, branding, cutting off of ears, or other forms of mutilation) for criminal offences.
In mid-2000, the RCC approved amputation of the tongue as a new penalty for slander or abusive remarks about the President or his family.
These punishments are practised mainly on political dissenters. Iraqi TV has broadcast pictures of these punishments as a warning to others.
According to an Amnesty International report published in August 2001, "torture is used systematically against political detainees. The scale and severity of torture in Iraq can only result from the acceptance of its use at the highest level."
Over the years, Amnesty and other human rights organisations have received thousands of reports of torture and interviewed numerous torture victims.
Although Iraqi law forbids the practice of torture, the British Government is not aware of a single case of an Iraqi official suspected of carrying out torture being brought to justice.
Treatment of women and children:
Under Saddam Huseein's regime women lack even the basic right to life. A 1990 decree allows male relatives to kill a female relative in the name of honour without punishment.
Women have been tortured, ill-treated and in some cases summarily executed too, according to Amnesty International.
The dossier says that BBC correspondent John Sweeney said he had met six witnesses with direct experience of child torture, including the crushing of a two-year-old girl's feet.
Conditions for political prisoners in Iraq are inhumane and degrading.
At the "Mahjar" prison "prisoners are beaten twice a day and the women regularly raped by their guards.
Arbitrary and summary killings:
Executions are carried out without due process of law. relatives are often prevented from burying the victims in accordance with Islamic practice and have even been charged for the bullets used.
Persecution of the Kurds:
Under Saddam's rule Iraq's Kurdish communities have experienced terrible suffering.
Documents captured by the Kurds during the Gulf War and handed over to the non-governmental oprganisation Human Rights Watch provided much information about Saddam's persecution of the Kurds. They detail the arrest and execution in 1983 of 8,000 Kurdish males aged 13 and upwards.
Persecution of the Shia community:
The Shia community, who make up 60% of Iraq's population is Iraq's biggest religious group.
Saddam has ensured that none of the Shia religious or tribal leaders is able to threaten his position. He kills any that become too prominent.
Harassment of the Opposition outside Iraq:
The UN Special Rapporteur has received numerous reports of harassment, intimidation and threats against the families of opposition members living abroad.
Occupation of Kuwait:
Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. Iraqi forces committed robbery, raped Kuwaities and expatriates and carried out summary executions. Amnesty International documented many other abuses during the occupation of Kuwait.
Methods of torture:
This dossier does not include every Iraqi's personal story of suffering, caused by Saddam's regime, known to the British Government.
There are sadly far too many to mention them all. But the evidence in the dossier is a faithful representation of what ordinary Iraqis face in their daily lives.
It is no wonder that, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2001, Iraqis have become the second largest group of refugees in the world.
Iraqis also top the table of foreign nationals seeking asylum in the UK.
Saddam Hussein has been ruthless in his treatment of any opposition to him since his rise to power in 1979.
A cruel and callous disregard for human life and suffering remains the hallmark of his regime.
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08 Aug 02 | Politics
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