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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

IRAQ: Calls for human rights to be respected during raids in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, 1 June 2005 (IRIN) - Human rights organisations have called on Iraqi and US forces to respect humanitarian law when raiding houses and searching people, after a massive campaign was launched to hunt down insurgents in the capital.

"The Iraqi and US soldiers should act with humanitarian procedures and not hurt innocent families psychologically or physically," Said Douha, the Middle East spokesperson for Amnesty International (AI), speaking to IRIN from the UK.

According to Douha, no security group has the right to break into houses, participate in raids or to arrest people without first issuing a warning.

"The Iraqi army or police have the right to make searches in streets but they should remember to treat people well and not make confusion between insurgents and civilians," he added.

"US and Iraqi forces have the right to search for insurgents to keep security in the capital and all over the country. The Iraqi people were already warned about the operation taking place," a spokesman for the US forces, Lt-Col Steven Boylan, told IRIN.

"Operation Lightning" is considered the biggest security crackdown since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003 and forces have sealed off Baghdad in the hunt for insurgents since 29 May.

According to Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials, 675 checkpoints have been set up in the capital by 40,000 Iraqi police and army officers backed by 10,000 US troops from the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

They have blocked major routes into Baghdad and are searching the city district by district, looking for foreign Arab fighters and Iraqi militants.

Iraqi families who have had their homes searched, have complained of rough treatment.

"They entered my home and captured my two sons saying that they need to be interrogated. Both of them were studying for their final exams in the college when they raided our house," Fadia Muhammad, from the Ghazaliya district in the capital, told IRIN.

"They behave brutally when entering homes and even animals deserve more respect," she added.

Others also called on the government to respect their rights.

"Iraqi lives mean nothing to the Iraqi government. They should learn how to behave with human beings without the unacceptable brutal way that is being used during raids, swearing and beating people," Kamal Sirdan, from the Dora district, told IRIN.

But the Iraqi government stands firm and said the raids have been very successful so far and will be to the benefit of Iraqi people in the long term.

"Since the operation and raids started last Sunday, we have captured more than 700 people who were found with suspected weapons in their homes. I can say that it's going to be a success and we are being careful not to capture the wrong people. Our officers have been well trained for the operation," an Iraqi government spokesman, Leith Kubba told IRIN.

Kubba added that this was the best way to stop insurgency in the country which has killed about 700 people in the past month.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Human Rights




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