Trial of Saddam Hussein : FIDH and HRDOI call for fair trial and victim’s Rights to be guaranteed

On the eve of the first trial before the Supreme Iraqi Criminal
Tribunal (SICT), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its partner organization
the Human Rights & Democracy Org. in Iraq (HRDOI) urge the members of the Supreme Iraqi
Criminal Tribunal (SICT, former Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST)) to guarantee fair trial rights and
compliance with international human rights standards.

Starting on 19 October 2005, the former Iraqi president and seven other former officials will be
prosecuted before the SICT. Saddam Hussein and other high official members of his regime face
more than twelve separate trials, each dealing with specific crimes committed during the period
1968 - 2003 over which the tribunal has jurisdiction.
The first case to be examined will focus on crimes which took place in the town of Dujail following
an assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein in 1982. The accused are charged of the alleged
assassination of over 140 residents by government security forces and the widespread destruction
of property.

FIDH and HRDOI have urged desperately for years for the judgement of Saddam Hussein and the
main officials of his regime. In this regard, the fact that they have to face a trial in Iraq for
international crimes is symbolically essential and is a source of satisfaction. The Special Tribunal
Statute is partly based on the Statute of the International Criminal Court, particularly with regards
to the definition of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It also repeats, in
substance, the general principles of criminal law adopted by 120 countries in Rome on 17 July
1998. Likewise, it restates the absence of immunity regardless of the position of the person on trial,
the principle of the responsibility of superiors and the absence of a statute of limitations.

However, FIDH and HRDOI reiterate their concerns regarding the capacity of the SICT to
guarantee the application of the highest international standards for a fair, independent and
impartial trial and to guarantee victims’ rights to justice and reparation.

FIDH and HRDOI are concerned that none of the recommendations made by non governmental
organizations [1] on the Order of the Coalition Provisional Authority on December 10, 2003
establishing the Statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal have been taken into account in Law 10 of
22005 ratified by the Presidency council in September 2005 to improve the today called Supreme
Iraqi Special Tribunal. The SICT Statute maintains most of the provisions of the IST Statute while
emphasizing a larger use of Iraqi criminal procedure law.
FIDH and HRDOI are particularly concerned with :

1. The implementation of domestic Iraqi criminal mechanisms by the SICT will end in a widespread use of the death penalty
 [2]

FIDH and HRDOI are extremely concerned with the increasing number of death penalties
pronounced by Iraqi tribunals in the last few months and the recent execution of 3 persons in
September 2005. FIDH expresses once again its opposition to the death penalty, under any
circumstances and anywhere. FIDH and HRDOI believe that article 30 (a) and (b) of the SICT
Statute on death penalty contradicts the notion of human dignity and liberty. FIDH and
HRDOI recall that none of the contemporary international criminal courts including the
International Criminal Court authorizes capital punishment. FIDH calls the SICT to comply with
its international obligations under article 6(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights ratified in 1971 and to refrain from applying the death penalty

2. The SICT should guarantee fair trial rights

FIDH and HRDOI are very concerned that the SICT may be unable to meet international human
rights standards of fairness. Given the sensitive context in which the SICT will try to achieve its
mandate FIDH and HRDOI believe as absolutely essential that international standards such as
defined in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are guaranteed.

Those include :
1. To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature
and cause of the charge against him;

2. To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate
with counsel of his own choosing;

3. To be tried without undue delay;

4. To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of
his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to
have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require,
and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay
for it;

5. To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance
and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against
him;

6. To have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language
used in court;

7. Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.

3. The Statute of the SICT makes no reference to victims’ rights.

The procedure laid out in the Statute does not guarantee victims’ rights to participation,
protection and reparation. In that context FIDH recalls that 19 Iraqi lawyers and experts
representing 11 Iraqi organizations concerned with Human Rights gathered on May 27-28 2005
for a round table [3] on the International Criminal Court and confirmed « the necessity for Iraq to
join the international consensus in supporting the International Criminal Court in its course
towards achieving international justice by ending the impunity for the perpetrators of the most
heinous international crimes, and providing compensation to the victims of these grave
violations of human rights ».

Taking into account SICT is partially based on Iraqi domestic criminal procedure and that the
1971 iraqi code provides for direct participation of victimes as « parties civiles » in criminal
cases, FIDH and HRDOI calls for the SICT to accept victims and their representatives in the
current proceedings.

Press contacts : Gaël Grilhot : +33-1 43 55 90 19

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