Top UN rights official shocked about recent civilian deaths in Iraq

In a statement issued in Geneva, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, stressed the responsibility of the occupying forces to ensure the safety and welfare of Iraqi civilians and to refrain from excessive use of force and indiscriminate attacks.He “calls on all belligerents to respect human rights and humanitarian law, and to demonstrate at all times paramount concern for the safety and protection of civilians,” the statement said. “He reiterates that even if there are security-related concerns, there can be no licence to commit carnage.”Meanwhile in Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, continued his consultations, meeting with representatives of the Iraqi Arab Nationalist movement, lead by former Foreign Minister Sohbi Abdel Hamid, as well as the leadership of the Dawa Party – Iraq Branch.Later Friday, Abdellaziz al-Hakim, a leading Shiite cleric and head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), invited Mr. Brahimi to dinner along with about 10 other leading political figures in Iraq. They included Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, Mohammad Baher el-Uloom, a member of the Governing Council from Najaf, Adel Abdel Mahdi, deputy head of SCIRI, and Dr. Ibrahim Jafaari, leader of the Dawa Party.Speaking to the press afterwards, Mr. Brahimi said the group discussed “the painful situation in Najaf and Karbala” and expressed their hope that it would end soon. “The spilling of blood of innocent Iraqi civilians should stop as soon as possible. Security and stability should return to these two areas, which are considered sacred to Muslims throughout the world,” he said.

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