The Red Cross on Saddam Hussein, POWs in Iraq and Torture at Abu Ghraib

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We go to Baghdad to speak with Nada Doumani, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross about the latest on the debate over what will happen to Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi POWs after the June 30 so-called handover of power.

The Iraqi official in charge of setting up a tribunal to try former Iraqi government members, Salem Chalabi, says he expects to file criminal charges against Saddam Hussein and others before the June 30 so-called transfer of power. Salem Chalabi is the nephew of US-backed Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi who has been accused of leaking US secrets to Iran.

On Monday, Iraq’s interim Prime Minister, Ilyad Allawi, said he wants Hussein to be handed over to the interim Iraqi government in two weeks but President Bush is refusing to set a timetable to release him. Speaking to reporters outside the White House yesterday, Bush said “appropriate security” must be in place before the US would hand over Hussein.

President Bush speaking outside the White House yesterday. US occupation leader Paul Bremer told the Washington Post that the US could transfer legal custody of Hussein but would retain physical custody. Hussein has been held at an undisclosed location since his capture by US forces in December and is being interrogated by the CIA and FBI.

Speculation about Saddam Hussein’s fate was raised after the Red Cross insisted Sunday the US cannot continue hold Hussein, who has been designated a prisoner of war by the US, after the formal end to the occupation.

  • Nada Doumani, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Just before the program, we reached Nada Doumani, spokesperson for the international committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad. The line isn’t great, but Nada Doumani, talk about what the Red Cross is saying about what should happen to Saddam Hussein.

NADA DOUMANI: You know, Saddam Hussein has been granted, by the U.S. authorities to sentence prisoners of war and [inaudible], the Geneva convention is very clear that anyone having violated International Humanitarian Law and this includes anybody a prisoner of war or civilian or detainee protected by the Geneva Convention. So, any violation must be properly investigated … those responsible should be prosecuted in accordance with the law. Whether it be Saddam Hussein or any other [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: What is the U.S. Government telling you right now?

NADA DOUMANI: Sorry. I didn’t get the question.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the U.S. Government telling you right now?

NADA DOUMANI: Well, I think the U.S. know perfectly about the law [ inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: I am wondering if the Red Cross is in dialogue with the U.S. government, what their response is to you.

NADA DOUMANI: We have no comment on that We do have limited dialogue with U.S. Authorities in Baghdad or elsewhere and we are I think — when we [inaudible] at the Geneva conventions and I believe the U.S. are also sticking by the Geneva Convention and they can also — they know perfectly well what is in the conventions And I don’t think there is any confusion on what treatment [inaudible] the only problem is sometimes there are different interpretations, especially when they are relayed by the media. but nobody ever said that there is any power or authority over any [inaudible] to decide on who should to be released and who shouldn’t be released and the only thing that we can say is that people should be tried and convicted with written guarantees [inaudible] they cannot be held in detention and indefinitely.

AMY GOODMAN: How many other people would you say are in the same category as Saddam Hussein?

NADA DOUMANI: Well, as I said, Saddam Hussein is a prisoner of war. So far, in Iraq, there are something like probably a little bit less than 50 people who have the status of prisoner of war.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Nada Doumani, spokesperson for the international red cross. She is in Baghdad. you are also saying — the Red Cross has said that they told the United States, the government, and the military that soldiers were being mistreated. Can you tell us where the Red Cross has found this and when the Red Cross knew this?

NADA DOUMANI: Did the Red Cross say anything about [inaudible]? I’m not aware of [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: I’m sorry. I meant prisoners. that prisoners were being mistreated.

NADA DOUMANI: Prisoners were being mistreated?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes. The Red Cross has said —

NADA DOUMANI: Are you referring to the Abu Ghraib case ?


NADA DOUMANI: Abu Ghraib prison?


NADA DOUMANI: Well, the Abu Ghraib prison, I think we have spoken a lot about. but that’s part of the [inaudible] authorities, including recommendations based on our visits. When we visited Abu Ghraib and other detention places, we issued a report that [inaudible] handed over to the detainee authorities, to the U.S., which included a series of recommendations and remarks.

AMY GOODMAN: And when was the first report of prisoners being abused handed over by the Red Cross to the U.S.?

NADA DOUMANI: The first report of Abu Ghraib, specifically, only, Abu Ghraib as a detention place, I was [inaudible] handed over to the u.s. In November last year and November following our visit to Abu Ghraib. And then in February this year, there was more comprehensive report detailing different detention places over a periods — starting from march 2003 up until November 2004. I believe you are mentioning this one because the media [inaudible] because it was leaked to the media not by us but by an American newspaper.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was the U.S. Response in November when the Red Cross gave the report that prisoners were being abused at Abu Ghraib?

NADA DOUMANI: I never said that in the report in November we spoke about that specifically. Our report was confidential telling of the important needs in order to keep on visiting detainees all over the world. That doesn’t apply only in Iraq. As usual, as I said, the working statements were handed over to the authorities and this is the agreement we have with them. we come in and discuss with them all the issues they are concerned about and if we believe there are improvements to be made, then we ask them to carry out these improvements.

AMY GOODMAN: Nada Doumani, spokesperson for the international committee of the Red Cross, speaking to us from Baghdad. You are listening to Democracy Now!

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