Iraqi Justice Minister Abdul Hussein Shandal decries the lawlessness of the occupation.
Iraq’s justice minister has condemned the U.S. military for detaining thousands of Iraqis for long periods without charge and wants to change a U.N. resolution that gives foreign troops immunity from Iraqi law.
Speaking to Reuters, Justice Minister Abdul Hussein Shandal also criticised U.S. detentions of Iraqi journalists and said the media, contrary to U.S. policy in Iraq, must have special legal protection to report on all sides in the conflict.
“No citizen should be arrested without a court order,” he said this week, complaining that U.S. suggestions that his ministry has an equal say on detentions were misleading.
“There is abuse (of human rights) due to detentions, which are overseen by the Multinational Force (MNF) and are not in the control of the justice ministry,” said Shandal, a Shi’ite judge respected for standing up to Saddam Hussein on the rule of law.
Killings and unjustified arrests of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops risked going unpunished, he said, because of U.N. Security Council resolution 1546, which granted U.S.-led forces sweeping powers following their overthrow of Saddam in 2003.
“The resolution … gives immunity to the MNF and means taking no action against the MNF no matter what happens or whatever they do against the people of Iraq,” Shandal said.
“We’re hoping to make more efforts with the Security Council and the whole United Nations to end this resolution or amend it so that anyone who violates Iraqi law or assaults any citizen is held accountable,” he said. “This is a matter of sovereignty.”
He said he was pressing the occupying forces to speed up releases for some of the 10,000 Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, often for many months without charge, on suspicion of aiding Sunni Arab insurgents.
Iraqi officials voice frustration with U.S. and British vetoes on some requests for release, noting that Iraqis have been held for two years without charge to “gather intelligence”.