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UN expert assails Iraq tribunal, says US, UK anti-terror laws undermine rights

[JURIST] A UN human rights expert Monday said the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) that will soon be trying Saddam Hussein did not meet international standards and should be replaced by an independent UN body, and criticized US and UK anti-terror laws for undermining human rights. Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the independence of judges and lawyers, addressed a variety of international rights issues in a wide-ranging, hard-hitting report [text] to the UN General Assembly. Expressing "alarm" at the procedures of the IST, he noted that

The Tribunal’s power to impose the death penalty demonstrates the extent to which it contravenes international human rights standards... Because it was established during an occupation and was financed primarily by the United States, its legitimacy has been widely questioned, with the result that its credibility has been tarnished... The Special Rapporteur urges the Iraqi authorities to follow the example set by other countries with deficient judicial systems by asking the United Nations to set up an independent tribunal which complies with international human rights standards.
Despouy also expressed concern at American and British anti-terror initiatives, including the upcoming trial of Guantanamo detainees by US military tribunals [JURIST news archive], and proposed UK legislation to allow the detention of terror suspects for three months without formal charges [JURIST report]. He noted the Guantanamo tribunals were especially problematic "in that they do not allow appeals to be brought before a civil judge, deny the right to defence, and discriminate between nationals and non-nationals, among other problems." The UN News Center has more.

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