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UN Plans to Issue Report on Alleged Human Rights Violations in Iraq - 2004-05-06

The United Nations is planning to issue a report late this month on alleged human rights abuses since the coalition took control in Iraq. Investigators are hoping to visit Baghdad to take testimony from alleged victims.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission says it is investigating complaints of rights abuses in Iraq in the 12 months since the U.S. and British-led coalition took control of the country.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard indicated the probe will include allegations of inmate abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. "The report will look at the military and security situation, including acts of terrorism, the protection of civilians and the treatment of persons in detention, among other subjects," he said.

Mr. Eckhard said that coalition authorities and members of the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council are being asked to cooperate fully with the investigation. "Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan has written to U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, members of the Iraqi Governing Council and the foreign ministers of the countries participating in coalition forces asking them to provide any information they consider to be relevant," he added.

The spokesman said the investigating team hopes to go to Baghdad to gather first-hand information about alleged human rights violations, such as those at the Abu Ghraib prison. Most of the work, however, will have to be done from neighboring Lebanon and Jordan because travel restrictions prevent most U.N. staff from going to Iraq.

The probe was announced a day after a top U.N. official expressed serious concern about the legal status of detainees being subjected to interrogation in Iraq. In a statement, Leila Zerrougui, head of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, said she was disturbed by reports that those arrested during public demonstrations, at checkpoints or during house raids had not been able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.