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The Iraqi Governing Council has formed a special task force on compensation for victims of the former regime of Saddam Hussein. Heading the project is a former political prisoner, Malik Dohan al-Hassan, now the elected head of the Iraqi Lawyers League.

Under the old regime, many Iraqis lost their jobs, were imprisoned, or executed because they were said to oppose Saddam Hussein. Others were arrested because they refused to join the Baath party. Some Iraqis were punished because they were related to someone considered to be an opponent of the regime.

Dan Senor, spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, says that, “The history of these abuses is complex and involves many thousands of people”:

”The coalition is establishing this task force to ensure the responsibility for judgments about how justice is to be done, will be taken by Iraqis. The coalition is setting aside initial funding from the Development Fund for Iraq to bolster this important effort on behalf of the Iraqi people. The initial set-aside is for twenty-five-million dollars.”

Mr. Senor says that the compensation task force will work with victims of the Saddam Hussein regime and with Iraqi ministries “to define the types of injustice for which compensation should be provided”:

“Other than those issues already being dealt with in other areas, such as the Iraqi Property Claims Commission, we will also consider how individuals can demonstrate their eligibility for such compensation, make recommendations about the level of compensation that should be received and the mechanisms through which it should be delivered.”

“During the last regime, our only priority was how to survive,” says Muna Khdar, a volunteer worker at the Iraqi Human Rights Center. “No government or any other institution can erase these past abuses or remove the scars they have left behind,” says Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. But compensation can provide an element of justice to those who suffered under Saddam’s brutally oppressive regime.