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British Report Accuses Saddam of Human Rights Abuses

The report says the Iraqi leader uses torture and terror as an official policy to crush dissent and maintain his grip on power.

Straq unveiled the document, titled “Saddam Hussein: Crimes and Human Rights Abuses,” at a meeting of the Atlantic Partnership, a group that supports warm relations between Britain and North America.

Straw said the dossier was the most detailed report the British government has compiled on Iraq. It includes alleged first-hand accounts of Iraqi victims and cites the efforts of relief organizations that have worked in Iraq.

According to the report, the Iraqi regime’s Republican Guard serve to enforce the will of Saddam and a few close associates, including his two sons, who the report says are personally responsible for some of the most heinous cases of abuse.

The dossier includes reports of government agents using rape, burning, amputation, electric shock, mutilation with acid, eye-gouging, beatings and other brutal methods of torture to terrorize and extract information from anyone suspected of having ties to opposition.

In one cited case, a man who had sold a car to a group later labeled hostile to the regime was hung by his arms on ceiling hooks, causing his severe tearing in his tendons and ligaments. The man is also said to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his extremities. His wife was also reportedly stripped, burned with cigarettes, and beaten in front of her children.

Murder is another tool employed by the Iraqi regime, the report says. Saddam’s son Udayy is said to have personally executed prisoners captured after the 1991 uprising in Basra. The report says both of Saddam’s sons have personally committed torture, rape, and murder.

According to the report, commanders in the police and armed forces have been given a green light to kill anyone suspected of opposition to the regime. Family members of the accused are also often summarily executed. The dossier documents public beheadings of Iraqi citizens.

The report claims three to four million Iraqis — some 15 percent of the population — have fled the country rather than live under Saddam’s regime. It says that, counting the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam has caused the death or injury of well over a million people.

Amnesty International responded to the report by accusing the British government of selectively highlighting cases of human rights abuses to further its own purposes.

“The human rights situation in Iraq or elsewhere should not be used selectively,” the group said in a statement. “The U.S. and other Western governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and ignored Amnesty International’s campaign on behalf of the thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians killed in the 1988 attacks on Halabja.”

The Iraqi government had no immediate response to the dossier, Reuters reports. Iraq has dismissed previous accounts of human rights abuses.

The dossier’s release comes as United Nations weapons inspectors continued their fifth day of renewed site visits in Iraq. Monday’s inspections included a visit to a Baghdad factory that once made control and guidance systems for Iraqi long-range “stretch Scud” missiles — weapons now banned under U.N. rules.

Inspectors said that items tagged by the previous U.N. inspection team in 1998 were missing. Iraqi officials reportedly told inspectors that some of the items were destroyed by allied bombing while others had been transferred to other sites. Inspectors did not say whether the removal of the items would be considered a violation of U.N. restrictions.

The inspection team, said to be wary of manipulation by both the Iraqi and U.S. government, have reported no opposition thus far and have issued few comments on their findings.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on Monday underscored President Bush’s desire for “a full and accurate, complete and credible list” of Iraqi weapons programs by a U.N.-mandated Dec. 8 deadline.

“Anything less will not be tolerated,” Fleischer. “The president will make clear that the burden of compliance rests with Saddam Hussein.”