ResourcesPress Release

Forensic Group Calls for Independent and Transparent Review of US Investigation into Alleged Execution of Civilians in Haditha, Iraq

For Immediate Release

<!—StartFragment —>Today, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called for an independent and impartial review of medicolegal findings from investigations into the allegations that U.S. Marines executed Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Reports state that as many as 24 civilians, some of them women and children, were shot to death by U.S. Marines on November 19, 2005. An initial report issued by the US Marines claimed that the civilians were killed by a roadside explosion.

PHR urges the Pentagon and the appropriate Iraqi government ministries to enable an impartial and independent review, including monitoring and observation of autopsies and other forensic procedures by outside pathologists and forensic scientists. PHR also urged the Pentagon to take every measure to address religious, cultural and social concerns of the family members of the victims and their communities as the investigation proceeds. "The allegations here are so serious, an independent review of the photographs, autopsy reports, and other information collected in this case is essential to ensuring that there is public trust in the conclusions of the investigations in the US, Iraq, and around the world," said PHR Executive Director Leonard S. Rubenstein.

The International Forensic Program of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) mobilizes the skills of medical and scientific professionals in dozens of countries to respond to victims of human rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. PHR works with experts to recover the dead, determine cause and manner of death, identify remains, and to provide evidence to a wide range of legal and judicial institutions. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, PHR scientists conducted forensic investigations to document the Iraqi Government's use of chemical weapons against its Kurdish population during the Anfal campaign and determined that the massacre of Iraqi Kurds and destruction of their villages amounted to genocide.

PHR's International Forensic Program has provided expert assistance in the exhumation and identification of remains and documentation of evidence of war crimes for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It has also exhumed individual and mass graves in Iraqi Kurdistan, Guatemala, Honduras, Cyprus, Georgia, Abkhazia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan PHR pathologists have also monitored autopsies and other crime scene investigations in Nigeria, Israel, and Palestine.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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