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US must do more to prevent war crimes: UN rapporteur

[JURIST] The US has failed to adequately prevent and prosecute war crimes and other abuses during its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions [official website] Philip Alston [oficial profile, DOC] said in a report [text, PDF] released Thursday. The report found, "Some aspects of the rule of law have been taken seriously during U.S. operations." Alston also warned, however, that:

there have been chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practices and conduct that resulted in alleged unlawful killings – including possible war crimes – in the United States’ international operations. The Government has failed to effectively investigate and punish lower-ranking soldiers for such deaths, and has not held senior officers responsible under the doctrine of command responsibility. Worse, it has effectively created a zone of impunity for private contractors and civilian intelligence agents by failing to investigate and prosecute them.
The report recommended forming a "commission of inquiry" to look into the causes and extent of these deaths. It further recommends hiring an independent special prosecutor.

Last week a jury in a federal court sentenced [JURIST report] former US soldier Steven Green [JURIST news archive] to life in prison for the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the murder of her family. A 2006 Washington Post report found [text] that homicide charges were rarely brought against US military members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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