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U.S. Holding Iraqi Officials Accountable for War Crimes - 2003-04-07


The rebuilding of Iraq will include seeking justice for those accused of war crimes. The Bush administration has repeatedly accused Iraqi leaders of violating international law and conventions governing armed combat. Iraq has denied the charge. But now administration officials are taking preliminary steps to create the judicial process that could bring any such war criminals to justice. Jim Bertel reports.

In war there are rules. They are intended to protect civilians and prevent unnecessary suffering by soldiers. Most are covered in the Geneva Convention dating back to 1949 and ratified by 190 nations including the United States and Iraq.

Officials from the Pentagon and the State Department on Monday spoke to reporters about the Geneva Conventions and the treatment of Prisoners of War. Pierre-Richard Prosper is the U.S. Ambassador for war crime issues at the U.S. State Department. He says not only will the Iraqi regime be accountable for war crimes against coalition forces, but also for crimes against the Iraqi people.

PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
“It is our view there should be accountability. We will work with the Iraqi people to create an Iraqi led process that will bring justice for the years of abuses that have occurred.”

Ambassador Prosper believes the United States has the right to prosecute crimes committed against U.S. military personnel.

PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
“There’s a range of options ranging from military proceedings to our civilian courts. We are of the view that an international tribunal for the current abuses is not necessary.”

The Geneva Convention also covers prisoner of war. W. Hays Parks – A Special Assistant to the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General says Iraqi POWs are being treated fairly.

W. HAYS PARKS, U.S. ARMY
“The United States and Coalition forces conduct all operations in compliance with the law of war.”

He adds that Iraqi officials will be held accountable for their actions toward Coalition Prisoners of War.

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