Human Rights Watch: Open letter on war in Iraq

News and Press Release
Originally published
Message from Kenneth Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch:
War has come to Iraq, despite the hopes of many that it could be avoided. Now, the challenge is to minimize the effects of war on Iraqi civilians.

Already, Human Rights Watch has deployed researchers to Iraqi Kurdistan and neighboring countries. Through careful interviews of eyewitnesses to the fighting, we hope to pierce the fog of war - as we did in Kosovo, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. By uncovering abuses as they occur, disseminating our findings direct from the field, and engaging in high-level advocacy, we seek to generate pressure to prevent the killing of civilians, the rape of women, the indiscriminate use of force, and the persecution of minorities and refugees.

We will scrutinize the conduct of U.S. and allied forces to ensure that they take all feasible precautions to protect civilians. We will closely watch the conduct of Iraqi government troops for signs that they might attack Iraqi civilians. We will monitor Iraqi opposition forces to try to prevent them from resuming the summary executions committed during the 1991 uprising. We will work to ensure that refugees and others in need receive humanitarian assistance and protection. We will press for prosecution of the worst human rights offenders, and of all those who commit serious war crimes. And we will insist that occupying forces in post-war Iraq establish basic security and the rule of law as quickly as possible.

There is always a tragic dimension to armed conflict. Given that the United States has decided to go to war, Human Rights Watch is determined to do everything we can to spare civilians the hazards of war.

Human Rights Watch
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