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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq: Brahimi meets Red Cross envoy on state of detainees in Abu Ghraib prison

20 May 2004 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, today discussed with the Baghdad envoy of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) the situation of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib and other prisons following reports of abuse and humiliation by United States and other coalition forces.

Due process rights, the whereabouts of the detainees and the conditions of their detention were among the issues on the agenda of the meeting with ICRC representative Pierre Grassmann. Mr. Brahimi urged the ICRC to engage with the new Iraqi caretaker government, due to take over sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority on 30 June, to find solutions to all the outstanding problems regarding the detainees.

The UN envoy, who has been in Iraq for two weeks for talks with all sectors of society as part of his efforts to set up the proposed interim government, said he was concerned about the situation of the detainees and had raised these issues publicly, both in Baghdad and in his report to the Security Council last month.

Early this month, after the media aired reports on atrocities at Abu Ghraib, near Baghdad, Mr. Annan said the United States and the United Kingdom must "take a strong and firm stand to ensure that those kinds of activities are not repeated."

Mr. Brahimi also met today with a group of Iraqi former political prisoners jailed for over 10 years by Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, who briefed him on the specific problems facing ex-political prisoners and the lack of progress in the rehabilitation and compensation of victims of past human rights abuses.

Also today he met with representatives of the Turkmen community as he continued to gather the views of hundreds of Iraqis regarding the composition of the caretaker government, the idea of holding a national conference and the process for elections scheduled for the end of January.

Mr. Brahimi said he "trusts there is a good basis for consensus on a government that will effectively serve the interests of the Iraqi people for the forthcoming period of transition." He will continue this process of broad consultation until consensus is achieved on the composition, structure and powers of the interim government.

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