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[casi] Is HRW trustworthy on Iraq? True or Running Cover for US?

Dear Colleagues,

   Will read the HRW's tale of the dirty rotten Iraqis, but will do so with
some skepticism. Spoke a few days ago with "Joe" who handles Iraq for HWR here
in Washington (which surely has a rape crisis, but not very newsworthy unless
there's a member of congress angle -- otherwise it's pretty much a "mere nig_r

    Joe professed skepticism about my documentation about the dire condition
reported by WHO. I attribute the cholera and other waterborne disease increase
(comming atop more than a decade of epidemic) to the fact that the US
prioritizes looting the oil over providing safe water, even for infants. Joe
is ever so circumspect as is his shop. Not over crimes and rumors of crimes of
U.S. and its  allies, but I guess that's the marketing game for you (bleak,
but I have played the piano in the whore house of capitalism for 20 years...)
   I hope HRW is being truthful fair and constructive, but I'd have to be nuts
not to be concerned.

     You can imagine, my surprise about this HRW  story which may be tragic
and true and may even be unconnected to the US occupation (strange things
happen when the US occupies). This is still another reason I hope that the
Brit Parliamnet building stands and Tony has not request brothers-in-arms'
military. Another, sinister, unproven (yet anyway)  interpretation is that
this is  an HRW version of the 1990 "babies from incubators" lie to distract
us from real attrocities.

   Does anyone have solid data? Since the WHO epi disease surveillance data is
so old, (May, 2003 except for a terse report #3 re cholera in June), I've got
to wonder...


>===== Original Message From AS-ILAS <> =====
>Human Rights Watch
>Date: 16 Jul 2003
>Climate of fear: Sexual violence and abduction of women and girls in Baghdad
>I. Summary
>At a time when insecurity is on the rise in Baghdad, women and girls in
>Baghdad told Human Rights Watch that the insecurity and fear of sexual
>violence or abduction is keeping them in their homes, out of schools, and
>away from work and looking for employment. The failure of the occupying
>power to protect women and girls from violence, and redress it when it
>occurs, has both immediate and long-term negative implications for the
>safety of women and girls and for their participation in post-war life in
>Reports of sexual violence and abduction of women and girls abound in
>Baghdad. Medical practitioners, victims, witnesses, and law enforcement
>authorities have documented some of these crimes. Human Rights Watch is
>concerned that many other cases go unreported and uninvestigated. Some women
>and girls fear that reporting sexual violence may provoke "honor" killings
>and social stigmatization. For others, the obstacles to filing and pursuing
>a police complaint or obtaining a forensic examination that would provide
>legal proof of sexual violence hamper them from receiving medical attention
>and pursuing justice. Without a referral from the police, women and girls
>cannot receive forensic examinations and, in some cases, women and girls who
>have sought assistance for sexual violence were refused medical attention
>because some hospital staff do not regard treating victims of sexual
>violence as their responsibility, or give such care low priority given their
>limited resources due to the war and in its aftermath. Whatever the reason,
>both documented and rumored stories of sexual violence and abduction are
>contributing to a palpable climate of fear.
>Many of the problems in addressing sexual violence and abduction against
>women and girls derive from the U.S.-led coalition forces and civilian
>administration's failure to provide public security in Baghdad. The public
>security vacuum in Baghdad has heightened the vulnerability of women and
>girls to sexual violence and abduction. The police force is considerably
>smaller and more poorly managed when compared to prior to the war. There is
>limited police street presence; fewer resources available to police to
>investigate; little if any record keeping; and many complaints are lost.
>Many hospitals and the forensic institute are unable to operate twenty-four
>hours a day as they did before the war, thus preventing women from obtaining
>medical treatment and the forensic examinations necessary to document sexual
>violence in a timely manner.
>The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has announced a commitment to
>train and educate police, including training on human right standards. In
>the meantime, as the occupying power, U.S.-led coalition forces have the
>responsibility to ensure public order and address Iraq's law enforcement
>Other problems in addressing sexual violence and abduction in Baghdad, and
>Iraq more broadly, are long-term problems that have needed to be addressed
>for many years. Women and girls live in an atmosphere where, if they are
>raped or even believed to have been raped, they have poor legal recourse and
>have well-grounded fears of social ostracism, rejection by their families,
>and even physical violence. Although rape and abduction are serious crimes
>under Iraqi law, there is a long-standing cultural stigma and shame attached
>to rape that positions victims as the wrongdoer and too frequently excuses
>or treats leniently the perpetrator.
>Moreover, there are provisions in Iraqi law that address sexual violence and
>abduction but do not adequately protect the human rights of women and girls
>from these violations. Some of the more notable of these are provisions in
>the Penal Code that allow a man to escape punishment for abduction by
>marrying the victim; and allow for significantly reduced sentences for
>so-called honor killings, for rape and other cases of sexual violence. In
>addition to these barriers in the law, Human Rights Watch investigated cases
>where police were reluctant to investigate cases of sexual violence and
>abduction and other cases where the police have blamed the victim, doubted
>her credibility, showed indifference, or conducted inadequate
>investigations. For these reasons, many women are reluctant to file a
>At the time of writing, plans for Iraq's reconstruction are taking shape and
>the rights of women and girls are at stake. It is essential that all parties
>involved in these plans address the state's inadequate protection of the
>rights of women and girls. Those involved in the reconstruction process
>should ensure that any existing and new trends toward treating women and
>girls unequally before the law and discouraging women and girls from
>reporting sexual violence, or punishing women and girls for being the
>victims of crimes of sexual violence, are countered.
>This report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in Baghdad,
>Iraq, from May 27, 2003 to June 20, 2003. A female researcher conducted over
>seventy interviews with victims of sexual violence and abduction, Iraqi
>police officers, U.S. military police officers, U.S. civil affairs officers,
>health practitioners, nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental
>organizations, and members of the CPA. Human Rights Watch found twenty-five
>credible reports of women who were victims of sexual violence or abducted,
>and took direct testimony from four victims. Because of the extreme
>consequences that face victims of sexual violence, all victims' names in
>this report are pseudonyms, and other details have been omitted in order to
>protect the confidentiality of the women and girls who agreed to share their
>experiences with Human Rights Watch.
>To the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and Iraqi authorities:
>Abide by international standards that ban sexual violence and discrimination
>against women and children, with particular regard to the Convention on the
>Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention
>on the Rights of the Child.
>As part of general judicial reform, examine legislation that in intent or
>effect treat women and girls unequally, and legislation relating to rape and
>other sexual violence against women and girls to ensure its compliance with
>international standards. In particular, repeal Iraqi Penal Code articles 398
>and 427.
>Take measures to include women into the police force, including by
>establishing special units with women staff to deal with sexual crimes.
>Establish a clear protocol for investigating sexual violence. This protocol
>should specify, among other things, how and where victims of sexual violence
>are to receive forensic medical attention. Distribute this protocol to all
>relevant Iraqi or other officials.
>The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs should strengthen support services
>for victims of rape and sexual violence, such as counseling, testing, heath
>and medical services, legal and financial services.
>The Ministry of Interior and its coalition advisors should ensure that
>investigating officers handling sexual violence, abduction, and rape cases
>specialize in such investigations and be trained in the issues surrounding
>gender violence and the use of medical and other forensic evidence.
>To the U.S.-led coalition military forces:
>Until the Iraqi police are fully capable of doing so, the U.S. should deploy
>a special investigative unit to investigate sex-based and trafficking crimes
>against women and girls. This unit should comprise experienced individuals
>trained in such work, and should employ female as well as male investigators
>and translators.
>Train military and Iraqi police about the need for sexual violence victims
>to have access to immediate medical and forensic attention for the
>collection of evidence.
>Clarify lines of communication between civil affairs officers, whom many
>women, girls, or their relatives may approach to report crimes of sexual
>violence, and the military police and Iraqi police, to ensure maximum
>coordination and information-sharing about cases, leads, and patterns.
>Until Iraqi police forces are able to do so, publish and widely disseminate
>crime statistics, which would include both crime reports received as well as
>perpetrators apprehended. Work with the Iraqi police to ensure that Iraqi
>record-keeping matches that of coalition forces.
>To the donor community:
>Special priority should be given to programs that:
>Review and reform existing laws to ensure that they are consistent with
>Iraq's obligations under international human rights standards, do not
>discriminate on the basis of sex or gender, and afford women and girls
>equality of access and opportunity.
>Train law enforcement and judicial personnel in recognizing, investigating,
>and prosecuting sexual violence, including sexual violence against children,
>and assist law enforcement agencies in acquiring necessary forensic skills
>and equipment for investigating cases of sexual violence.
>Provide financial and technical assistance to civil society organizations
>providing services to women and girls who have suffered sexual violence,
>trafficking, forced marriage, or who fear reprisals from their families in
>the form of "honor" killings. Such services may include shelter, legal
>services, counseling and testing, and medical assistance, and should be
>sensitive to the special needs of street children, internally displaced
>persons and refugees, and members of disadvantaged social groups.
>Full report (pdf* format - 416 KB)
>*Get Adobe Acrobat Viewer (free)
> Copyright, Human Rights Watch 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor New York, NY
>10118-3299 USA
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Thomas J. Nagy, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. of Expert Systems
George Washington Univeristy Sch. of Business & Public Mgt.
Washington, D.C. 20052

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