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New FCO "report" on human rights in Iraq

Dear all,

The FCO has just posted onto its website a report entitled "HUMAN RIGHTS
IN IRAQ DETERIORATE".  The document does not seem to contain any
information that is not already reported either by Amnesty International
or the Special Rapporteurs of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Max von
der Stoël and (as of January 2000) Andreas Mavrommatis.  Despite its
title, the report seems not to describe any new developments, but merely
to outline issues that are already well-known.

The appalling human rights record of the Iraqi regime is naturally easily
expounded, and it is hard to see whom the FCO is trying to convince.  
Interestingly, however, the FCO also feels compelled to mention points
that very directly relate to the criticism of sanctions.  Notably, one
heading is entitled "Food and health needs", under which it is mentioned
that Max van der Stoel pointed out in his reports that the Government of
Iraq refused until 1996 to participate in the 'oil for food' programme
first proposed by the UN in 1991. It also relates that "Andreas
Mavrommatis also reported that the Iraqi Government was using the ration
card system as a means of pressure and intimidation".  Naturally, while
noting that Mavrommatis "called on Iraq to take more steps, to the maximum
of its available resources", it does not discuss the reason for the
shortage of those resources in the first place.

Equally unsurprisingly, is that while it refers to Amnesty's criticism of
the GoI, it does not care to mention the concern expressed by Amnesty US
(and UK, to some extent) about the effects of sanctions.  Also, while
invoking the authority of the UNCHR, it fails to make any mention of the
report by Marc Bossuyt, on "The adverse consequences of economic sanctions
on the enjoyment of human rights", prepared for the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights in September this year.

The oil-for-food programme is further mentioned under the heading "WHAT
BRITAIN DOES TO HELP". Stating that "thousands of millions of dollars have
been spent bringing vital assistance to the people of Iraq in meeting
their daily needs", it fails to explain why these daily news are so much
greater now than before the imposition of sanctions, in spite of the
regime being the same.

Moreover, the report at this point gets completely out of hand.  It says
that "Iraq finally allowed the ['oil for food']programme to get underway
in late 1999"(should be 1996).  A little later, it goes on to claim that
"Britain invested considerable energy throughout 1996 in securing adoption
of a new SCR, 1284" (the year should be 1999).  Perhaps just a typo, but
given the invitation that "Your comments on the usefulness of this paper
are welcome on the FCO web site facility:", it's a bit hard to restrain oneself.

Really, - like Peter Brooke points out - one is left with the impression
that most people on this list do a better job of criticising the Iraqi
government than does the FCO.


Per Klevnäs

Research Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq                  fax 0870 063 5022

Girton College,                 tel: +44 (0)79 905 01 905
Cambridge CB3 0JG               fax: +44 (0)87 016 96 390

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