Global Policy Forum

UN Security Council Should Ensure Full Accountability for Multinational Force Abuses


Amnesty International USA
June 14, 2006

Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations (UN) Security Council and the Iraqi government to ensure that those who commit crimes under international law in Iraq, including members of the US-led Multinational Force (MNF), are held to account.

The Security Council should reconsider its decision to extend the immunity from legal proceedings for abuses by the MNF or their contractors, the organisation said today ahead of a Security Council meeting on 15 June to review resolution 1637 (2005), which extended the mandate of the MNF until 31 December 2006.

Members of the MNF have immunity from prosecution under Iraqi criminal and civil law, as stipulated by Security Council resolution 1546 (2004) with its attached exchange of letters between the Iraqi and US authorities. Investigations into human rights violations committed by the MNF in Iraq and the bringing to justice of those responsible have, therefore, been entirely in the hands of their own national authorities.

Amnesty International is concerned that military investigations and prosecutions in connection with human rights violations committed by members of the MNF have not met international standards of independence and impartiality. The organisation believes that members of armed forces should not be tried in military courts for crimes under international law. Moreover, while acknowledging the recent investigations into alleged deliberate killings of Iraqi civilians by US troops, including the now-concluded Ishaqi investigation and the ongoing Haditha investigation, Amnesty International is concerned that they are not being investigated by a fully independent body.

Under the international law on territorial jurisdiction, the Iraqi criminal justice system should be able to exercise jurisdiction over any crime committed in Iraq. Amnesty International also notes that the Iraqi authorities have announced their desire to set up their own investigations into the Haditha and Ishaqi attacks.

A review of the MNF mandate could also allow states to help end impunity for serious human rights violations in Iraq, by exercising universal jurisdiction over crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Where a suspect is a national of a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ICC may have jurisdiction, if no state is able or willing genuinely to investigate and prosecute.

Amnesty International urges the Security Council to remind all states of their obligation to investigate crimes under international law and to bring those accused of such crimes before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.


The US military is conducting two investigations into the alleged deliberate killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by US Marines in the town of Haditha on 19 November 2005. The two investigations are expected to be completed during the summer of 2006. One of the investigations being carried out by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) focuses on the actions of the Marines, including their squad leader. The second inquiry, led by Army Major General Eldon Bargewell, is examining whether any of the Marines, or their superiors, were involved in trying to cover up the killings by filing false reports.

The U.S. military said three or four other cases involving allegations that U.S. troops killed Iraqi civilians are also under investigation. One investigation, into a separate incident in which US troops were accused of deliberately killing 11 Iraqi civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March 2006, was concluded on 2 June. The investigation found that the ground force commander properly followed the US military's rules of engagement, and dismissed allegations that 11 people, including women and children, were shot by US troops and that the troops then destroyed the house to conceal what had occurred. The US said at the time that four people died during a raid, but has now confirmed that there were up to nine so-called collateral deaths.

More Information on Iraq
More Information on the International Law Aspects of the Iraq War and Occupation
More Information on the UN Role in Post-War Iraq
More Information on the Occupation and Rule in Iraq


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