U.N. en­voy to probe lethal force by U.S.

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Betsy Pisik

NEW YORK — The U.N. spe­cial­ist on il­le­gal ex­e­cu­tions plans to probe the use of deadly force by U.S. troops and mil­i­tary con­trac­tors in Iraq when he vis­its the United States next spring.

Asked whether he also planned to visit Iraq to look into eth­nic cleans­ing and mili­tia killings there, hu­man rights rap­por­teur Philip Al­ston said he saw no point be­cause his move­ments would be too se­verely re­stricted by se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Mr. Al­ston said he plans to in­ves­ti­gate whether U.S. mil­i­tary and crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tems are prop­erly try­ing sol­diers who kill Iraqis and Afghans in U.S. cus­tody.

He said he also was con­cerned by con­trac­tors’ use of force in Iraq, where sev­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der way into charges that em­ploy­ees of Black­wa­ter USA and other com­pa­nies have fired in­dis­crim­i­nately, killing in­no­cent civil­ians. The con­trac­tors are largely pro­tected from Iraqi laws and none have been tried in U.S. courts.

“That’s clearly an is­sue which I would want to look at in­so­far as ex­e­cu­tions are in­volved, and ob­vi­ously in the Black­wa­ter case re­cently, they are,” Mr. Al­ston said Oct. 26, af­ter brief­ing the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly’s com­mit­tee on hu­man rights.

Mr. Al­ston, an Aus­tralian na­tional, said his re­quest to visit had been af­firmed by Amer­i­can au­thor­i­ties, but he had not yet set up a sched­ule of places to visit or peo­ple to see.

The U.N. spe­cial rap­por­teur on ex­tra­ju­di­cial, sum­mary or ar­bi­trary ex­e­cu­tions, as Mr. Al­ston is known, is more likely to in­ves­ti­gate honor killings, mass ex­e­cu­tions or black­masked death squads than it is uni­formed gov­ern­ment sol­diers.

None­the­less, a U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the Oct. 26 meet­ing of the so­called Third Com­mit­tee, which deals with eco­nomic, so­cial and hu­man rights is­sues, said the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion wel­comes Mr. Al­ston’s visit. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Leaksmy Norin, noted that as­sign­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity in an armed con­flict could be legally com­plex.

Hu­man rights ex­perts pre­vi­ously have vis­ited the United States to in­ves­ti­gate in­con­sis­ten­cies in the use of the death penalty, the treat­ment of women in prison and free­dom of re­li­gion, among other is­sues.

Al­though he re­ports to the Geneva-based Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, Mr. Al­ston — who also serves as the di­rec­tor of the New York Univer­sity Cen­ter for Hu­man Rights and Global Jus­tice — stressed that he sets his own agenda and chooses which coun­tries he would like to visit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.