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11/15/03 - RULE OF LAW IN IRAQ - 2003-11-17

The goal of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is to return the government of Iraq to the people of Iraq. But first, the coalition must help the Iraqi people bring peace and stability to the country by establishing the rule of law.

Saddam Hussein didn’t believe in the rule of law. He exercised power through a sophisticated structure of security services, revolutionary courts, emergency decrees, informers, and the crushing of dissent. But now that Iraq has been liberated, the legal system is being reformed and reconstituted.

Throughout Iraq, terrorists, criminals, and corrupt officials are being brought to justice and face open and fair trials -- men like Abdul Munim, the former governor of Najaf, who was arrested in late June on corruption charges.

During his trial, the court heard evidence that, since Iraq’s liberation, Munim illegally detained three children of a political enemy, tore up a document prohibiting him from withdrawing money from government accounts, and illegally retained money belonging to a man who had been released from detention. He was found guilty and sentenced to fourteen years in prison.

The fair and open trial of Abdul Munim is just one example of Iraq’s move toward what President George W. Bush calls, a “successful society”:

“Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law instead of selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions, for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media, guarantee religious liberty, the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women, and instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.”

As the coalition helps the Iraqi people to bring self-government to their country, Iraq is on its way to becoming a successful society.