Global Policy Forum

US Steps Up Plans for Tribunal on Iraq War Crimes


Adam Entous

April 6, 2004

The Bush administration said on Tuesday it was ramping up preparations for war crimes cases against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and others, and planned to dispatch a special "regime crimes" adviser and launch investigations in the coming months. The Bush administration also told Congress in a report that the State Department and a yet-to-be-named U.S. ambassador to Iraq would assume responsibility for reconstruction efforts after the June 30 transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to an interim government. They would take the lead from the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Defense Department. In a bid to stem mounting violence in Iraq, the administration also notified lawmakers it was diverting money from the Iraqi Army to expand the country's police and civil defense forces.

President Bush vowed on Monday to stick to a June 30 deadline for handing over Iraqi sovereignty, even as a Shi'ite uprising against the U.S.-led occupation stirred fears of a civil war. The administration said it has started planning for the Iraqi Special Tribunal by establishing an evidence storage facility at a former Iraqi Army base. It dispatched five deputy U.S. marshals to Baghdad on March 26 as the first wave of investigative advisers, the report said. Over the next three months, the administration said it would develop a computerized system to track and archive documents, dispatch a "regime crimes" adviser to Iraq, and begin training sessions for Iraqi judges and investigators. Officials had no immediate comment on who would be named war crimes adviser.

A high-level U.S. team and Iraqi Tribunal members would also soon "begin investigations of high value defendants," the report said, without providing names. Saddam was overthrown weeks after U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq last March and has been in the custody of U.S. forces since he was captured in December. The White House has designated the Justice Department to take the lead in developing the case against Saddam and others that would eventually be turned over to Iraqi prosecutors.

In the report to Congress, which outlines U.S. spending plans in Iraq, the administration said it has reallocated $65 million from the Iraqi Armed Forces, $20 million from border enforcement and $8 million from a facility protection program to provide an extra $93 million for police training. Under the new plan, the State Department will use $600 million to complete construction of a police training facility in Jordan and to deploy up to 700 American police advisers and trainers. Other countries would contribute another 500 police advisers, the report said. Another $41 million was reallocated from the Iraqi Armed Forces to increase the number of battalions in the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps from 36 to 45, the report said. They are a lightly equipped force that backs up U.S.-led troops and will eventually number nearly 41,000.

The administration said it was cutting $7 million from a "Democracy Building" program in order to cover part of the U.S. Agency for International Development's administrative expenses. The report also said the Coalition Provisional Authority expects Iraq to meet the goal of generating 6,000 megawatts per hour of electricity by June 2004. It also said "the improved capacity for oil production" has increased the average daily production rate to about 2.5 million barrels, with average crude oil exports increasing to 1.7 million barrels per day as of March.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the Iraq Tribunal
More Information on International Criminal Tribunals and Special Courts


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