NEW YORK: The United Nations has asked the US administration to probe the involvement of American forces in human rights abuses, summary executions and war crimes in following the “largest classified military leak” detailing accounts of torture and killing of over 66,000 civilians.
In the “largest classified military leak” in the US history, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has released nearly 4,00,000 secret American documents on Iraq war detailing graphic accounts of torture, killing of over 66,000 civilians and Iran’s role in the conflict.
The call for probe by the UN’s chief investigator on torture, Mr Manfred Nowak, came as Mr Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers in the UK, warned that some of the deaths documented in the Iraq war logs could have involved British forces and would be pursued through the UK courts.
According to a report in the British daily ‘The Guardian,’ which has analysed the 4,00,000 documents, found 15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths. Mr Nowak demanded a public inquiry into allegations that British troops were responsible for civilian deaths during the conflict. Mr Nowak said the Obama administration had an
obligation to investigate them if the “classified military leak” pointed to clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture, according to the British newspaper.
He said it would be up to the Obama administration to launch an “independent and objective” investigation with a view not only to “bring the perpetrators to justice but also to provide the victims with adequate remedy and reparation.”
The logs show how US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and generally unpunished, the report in the British daily said. The logs paint a disturbing picture of the relationship between US and Iraqi forces. Mr Nowak underlined that the UN human rights agreements made it obligatory on the parts of states to criminalise all forms of torture, whether directly or indirectly, and probe any allegations of abuse. He said the Obama administration had a legal and moral obligation to fully investigate credible claims of US forces’ complicity in torture.
The latest leaked documents chronicling the Iraq war from 2004 to 2009 provide a new picture of how many Iraqi civilians were killed, open a new window on the role that Iran played in supporting Iraqi militants and give many accounts of abuse by Iraqi army and police, said ‘The New York Times,’ one of the news organisations which got early access to the papers.
WikiLeaks released the documents despite Pentagon’s warning that it could endanger informants and reveal war strategy. In a news release, the group said the documents detail 1,09,032 deaths in Iraq, encompassing 66,081 civilians, 23,984 insurgents, 15,196 Iraqi government forces and 3,771 coalition forces, according to the classifications used by the US military. The Pentagon strongly condemned the unauthorised disclosure of classified information contained in 3,92,000 documents.
“Significant activities’ reports (in the leaked documents) are initial, raw observations by tactical units,” Pentagon Press Secretary, Mr Geoff Morrell told reporters. WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief, Mr Julian Assange told CNN that the new round of field reports shows “compelling evidence of war crimes” committed by forces of the US-led coalition and the Iraqi government. Earlier this year, WikiLeaks had released 92,000 Afghan war-related documents. The website’s founder Mr Julian Assange said the documents made public are aimed at bringing out the truth that had been the first casualty of the war.