Embargoed until Monday, November 22, 2004.
Contact: Karen Parker
HUMANITARIAN LAW GROUPS FILE RIGHTS PETITION AT OAS
AGAINST THE UNITED STATES FOR ATTACKS ON HOSPITALS, CLINICS IN FALLUJA
Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational
Development (HLP/IED and San Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian
Lawyers (AHL), submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights of the Organization of American States on behalf of
"unnamed, unnumbered patients and medical staff both living and dead" at
the medical facilities in Falluja. The Commission had authority to
investigate human rights violations committed by a member State of the
OAS and to seek remedies for victims.
"Attacks on hospitals and medical personnel are truly shocking. We hope
that this will result in the immediate improvement of the situation of
the patients and staff, to additional remedies for these victims, and an
end to the United States violations of human rights and the Geneva
Conventions in Iraq," stated Lydia Brazon, Executive Director of the
United Nations credentialed HLP/IED.
The Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks on any medical facility or
medical personnel, whether civilian or military. "Imagine the outrage if
the opposition in Iraq attacked one of the medical facilities for
American wounded. There would be calls for war crimes tribunals," stated
Karen Parker, the attorney in this action. "Rather than being "quaint"
as administration Attorney-General nominee Gonzales has said, the Geneva
Conventions and human rights agreements are meant to prevent acts of
barbarity in war. Besides preventing atrocities, they are meant to
protect GIs from the psychological damage that afflicts people who carry
out this type of action."
In addition to the evidence already attached to their document, the
Petitioners will submit New York Times photographer Shawn Baldwin's
photograph of patients lying on the floor with their hands tied behind
their backs, and a number of other photos and stories about the tragedy.
They also informed the Commission that weapons containing depleted
uranium, declared illegal weapons by a United Nations human rights body,
might have been used near the hospitals, placing the victims at further
risk of serious harm.
The Petition was filed under the Commission's emergency provisions,
enabling the Commission to order the United States to undertake measures
to prevent "irreparable harm" to victims. The Petitioners also requested
the Commission to visit Falluja for a first-hand assessment.