HUMANITARIAN LAW GROUPS FILE RIGHTS PETITION AT OAS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES FOR ATTACKS ON HOSPITALS, CLINICS IN FALLUJA

November 22, 2004 - Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational Development (HLP/IED and San Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL), submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States on behalf of "unnamed, unnumbered patients and medical staff both living and dead" at the medical facilities in Falluja.  The Commission had authority to investigate human rights violations committed by a member State of the OAS and to seek remedies for victims.

"Attacks on hospitals and medical personnel are truly shocking. We hope that this will result in the immediate improvement of the situation of the patients and staff, to additional remedies for these victims, and an end to the United States violations of human rights and the Geneva Conventions in Iraq," stated Lydia Brazon, Executive Director of the United Nations credentialed HLP/IED.

The Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks on any medical facility or medical personnel, whether civilian or military. "Imagine the outrage if the opposition in Iraq attacked one of the medical facilities for American wounded. There would be calls for war crimes tribunals," stated Karen Parker, the attorney in this action. "Rather than being "quaint" as administration Attorney-General nominee Gonzales has said, the Geneva Conventions and human rights agreements are meant to prevent acts of barbarity in war. Besides preventing atrocities, they are meant to protect GIs from the psychological damage that afflicts people who carry out this type of action."

In addition to the evidence already attached to their document, the Petitioners will submit New York Times photographer Shawn Baldwin¹s photograph of patients lying on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs, and a number of other photos and stories about the tragedy. They also informed the Commission that weapons containing depleted uranium, declared illegal weapons by a United Nations human rights body, might have been used near the hospitals, placing the victims at further risk of serious harm.

The Petition was filed under the Commission¹s emergency provisions, enabling the Commission to order the United States to undertake measures to prevent "irreparable harm" to victims. The Petitioners also requested the Commission to visit Falluja for a first-hand assessment.

TEXT OF PETITION


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