Accessibility links

Looting and the Law: Addressing looting incidents in Iraq - 2003-04-09


DAVID BORGIDA, VOA-TV
Looting and law and order is an issue in parts of Iraq that have been overtaken by the British and American forces. People went on a looting spree in Basra Monday after British troops took control of the city. Carol Pearson is in the VOA-TV newsroom. Carol you have looked into the issue of law and order and who should provide it.

CAROL PEARSON, VOA-TV
“David, residents of Basra are angry about the breakdown in law and order. But there may not be much that coalition forces can do about it immediately.”

Looters have been carrying away office furniture, electrical appliances, carpets, anything and everything that can be unscrewed, rolled away or simply picked up.

In Basra, royal Scots Dragoon officer Charlie Lambert emphasized the need for law and order.

CHARLIE LAMBERT, ROYAL SCOTS DRAGOON OFFICER
“This place has been absolutely devastated today and the sad thing is there is nothing we can do about it. We don’t have enough troops on the ground to deal with the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people, thousands, who have come in here to loot and they’ve been taking absolutely everything.”

Some people have begged Coalition Forces to provide security, but another member of the British forces in Basra said that is not their role.

MEMBER OF THE BRITISH FORCES
“Our aim has been here to defeat the regime. What we’re doing at the moment is starting to win the trust of the community, by making sure they’ve got water, which is the one thing they want more than anything else. “

The residents of Basra and other Coalition – controlled towns in Iraq are caught in what American University Law Professor Robert Goldman calls “a twilight zone.”

PROFESSOR ROBERT GOLDMAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL
“The issue here is that the British and the Americans who are there have not been able to establish a true occupation. The job of these troops at this stage is to protect themselves and to wipe out or neutralize ongoing resistance activities that are taking place.”

Professor Goldman specializes in the law of war, and he says until it is safe enough for a civilian administration to step in, non-combatants will have to fend for themselves. Once Coalition forces become an occupying force, they are legally bound to provide security for the citizens.

CAROL PEARSON, VOA-TV
“For residents of Basra, the days of looting may be numbered, the British troops who captured the city have asked a local tribal leader to form a civilian administration for both the city and the province.”

XS
SM
MD
LG