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12/5/02 - IRAQI HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES - 2002-12-06

Saddam Hussein uses torture, rape and terror to oppress the Iraqi people. That is the conclusion of a report by the British government.

The report is entitled "Saddam Hussein: Crimes and Human Rights Abuses." It is based on intelligence material, firsthand accounts by Iraqi victims of torture, and reports by non-governmental organizations.

According to the report, Iraq is a "terrifying place to live" where "arbitrary arrests and killings are commonplace." Political dissidents are tortured, women lack basic human rights and are systematically raped by security personnel while in custody. Political prisoners are kept in inhumane and degrading conditions.

The British report documents some of the methods of torture used by Saddam's police, including eye gouging, electric shock and piercing hands with electric drills. In the words of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, "The dossier makes for harrowing reading."

The report also details Saddam's persecution of Iraq's ethnic Kurds and the Shia religious community. "Saddam Hussein has been ruthless in his treatment of any opposition to him since his rise to power in 1979," the British report says. "A cruel and callous disregard for human life and suffering remains the hallmark of his regime." In the words of British Foreign Secretary Straw, "[the report was released] to remind the world that the abuses of the Iraqi regime extend far beyond its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in violation of its international obligations."

Civilized nations are uniting to answer the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. United Nations Resolution one-four-four-one provides U-N inspectors a strong mandate to verify the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related programs.

The burden is on Iraq to cooperate with inspectors. As President George W. Bush said, “We will not permit Saddam Hussein to blackmail and/or terrorize nations which love freedom." "Delay and defiance," said Mr. Bush, "will invite the severest of consequences.”