In the decision hand down on 1 September 2006, but not provide to the former Iraqi President's lawyers until just a few days ago, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that the "deprivation of liberty of Mr. Saddam Hussein is arbitrary, being in contravention of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to which Iraq and the United States are parties."
The Working Group—which consists of legal experts from Iran, Algeria, Paraguay, Spain and Hungary—spent more than two years collecting information and reviewing the case before making its decision. The Working Group's decisions are based on its interpretation of international treaties, primarily the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. In this case the Working Group found article 14 of the International Covenant to have been violated in numerous ways.
On 30 November 2005, the Working Group had issued a Preliminary Opinion and requested the United States and Iraq to remedy the situation. Since then, as a second trial began, another defence lawyer has been killed, the United States government has continued to fail to provide adequate security, a relative of one of judges has been killed, the defence lawyers have been threatened to the extent that they can no longer safely participate in proceedings, and the violations of due process in the courtroom have continued.
"The decision of the UN Working Group is not surprising. Anyone who has been following the trial knows that it has been a gross abuse of law. The Working Opinion vindicates what I and other international legal experts have been claiming for months. The ball is now in the United States' court.
Together with the occupation government it have installed in Iraq, the United States government must decide if it will respect international law or whether it continue to act with disrespect for this law," said Dr. Curtis F.J. Doebbler, a professor law at An-Najah National University and the lawyer for the former Iraqi President who filed the case.
Doebbler added, "If the United States continues to so blatantly violate international law, the rest of the international community must impose very serious consequences. If they do not, we will have lost the war to all those who say that law does not count and that violence is the only way forward. Is this the message George Bush wants to send? It is the message he is sending."
The Working Group lacks authority to enforce its decisions, however, states that act contrary to the decision of the Working Group have been viewed a pariah state in the international community and often been subjected to sanctions, restrictions on the travel of their officials, and boycotts.
For further information contact Mr. Arno Develay at +1-646-853-7472.