Last updated on: 9/16/2009 8:55:00 AM PST
What human rights abuses did Saddam Hussein and his regime commit?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Michael P. Scharf, JD, Director of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and Michael A. Newton, LLM, Law Professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School, both former Advisors to the Iraqi High Tribunal, wrote in a Dec. 18, 2006 "ASIL Insights" article titled "The Iraqi Tribunal's Dujail Trial Opinion" on the American Society of International Law (ASIL) website:

"From October 2005 to July 2006, Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants were tried for crimes against humanity in the first of several planned trials before the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) -- a judicial institution originally created by the Iraqi Interim Governing Council on December 10, 2003, and later approved by the democratically elected Iraqi National Assembly on August 11, 2005...

The first IHT trial, which was televised gavel-to-gavel in Iraq, dealt with allegations that Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants responded to a 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail by attacking the inhabitants with helicopter gunships; destroying the town's farmland, date palm groves, and water supply; arresting 300 residents and interrogating them at torture centers where one-third died; interning whole families at a remote desert compound for four years; and referring the survivors to the Revolutionary Court where they were found guilty without a real trial, sentenced to death, and executed.

On November 5, 2006, the five-judge IHT Trial Chamber announced its verdict and sentence... Saddam Hussein, Awad al-Bandar, the former President of the Revolutionary Court, and Barzan Ibrahim, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, were sentenced to death."


Dec. 18, 2006 - Michael Scharf, JD 
Michael A. Newton, LLM 

George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd US President, stated in his second State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003:

"The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.

Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained: by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.

If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning."


Jan. 28, 2003 - George W. Bush, MBA 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK, wrote in a Nov. 2002 report titled "Saddam Hussein: Crimes and Human Rights Abuses":

"Saddam has, through the RCC [Revolutionary Command Council], issued a series of decrees establishing severe penalties (amputation, branding, cutting off of ears, or other forms of mutilation) for criminal offenses. In mid-2000, the RCC approved amputation of the tongue as a new penalty for slander or abusive remarks about the President [Hussein] or his family. These punishments are practiced mainly on political dissenters. Iraqi TV had broadcast pictures of these punishments as a warning to others...

Under Saddam Hussein's regime women lack even the basic right to life. A 1990 decree allows male relatives to kill a female relative in the name of honour without any punishment...

Documents captured by the Kurds during the Gulf War [1990-1991] and handed over to the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch provided much information about Saddam's persecution of the Kurds. They detail the arrest and execution in 1983 of 8,000 Kurdish males aged 13 and upwards...

The Shia community, who make up 60% of Iraq's population, is Iraq's biggest religious group. Saddam has ensured that none of the Shia religious or tribal leaders is able to threaten his position. He kills any that become too prominent...

During the 1990's, Saddam pursued a policy of draining the marsh area of southern Iraq, so forcing the population to relocate to urban areas where it was less able to offer assistance to anti-regime elements and could be controlled more effectively by the regime's security forces. As an U.N. Environment Programme report put it -- 'The collapse of Marsh Arab society, a distinct indigenous people that has inhabited the marshlands for millennia, adds a human dimension to this environment disaster. Around 40,000 of the estimated half-million Marsh Arabs are now living in refugee camps in Iran, while the rest are internally displaced within Iraq.'"

Nov. 2002 - Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), United Kingdom 

The US Department of State wrote the following in a Mar. 2003 report titled "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for the Year 2002":

"The [Saddam Hussein] regime's human rights record remained extremely poor, and it continued to commit numerous, serious human rights abuses. Citizens did not have the right to change the regime. The regime continued summarily to execute alleged political opponents and leaders of the Shi'a religious community.

Reports suggested that persons were executed merely because of their association with an opposition group.

The regime continued to be responsible for disappearances and to kill and torture persons suspected of or related to persons suspected of oppositional politics, economic crimes, military desertion, and a variety of other activities."

Mar. 2003 - US Department of State 

Bill Clinton, JD, 42nd President of the US, noted the following in a Mar. 3, 1999 letter to then House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and then President Pro Tempore of the Senate Strom Thurmond (R-SC), on the Clinton Presidential Center website:

"The human rights situation throughout Iraq continues to be a cause for grave concern.  As I reported November 5, the Iraqi army has stepped up repressive operations against the Shia in the south.  In mid-November, we received unconfirmed reports from the Iraqi opposition that 150 persons had been executed at Amara, with three bodies left hanging on the city's main bridge over the Tigris River as a warning to those who oppose the regime.  An additional 172 persons, some detained since 1991, were reported to have been summarily executed in Abu Gharaib and Radwaniya prisons; as in prior waves of summary prison killings, bodies showing clear signs of torture were reportedly returned to their families.  Reports reached us in December that a mass grave containing at least 25 bodies was found near the Khoraisan River in Diyala province, east of Baghdad...

The Iraqi government continues to stall and obfuscate attempts to account for more than 600 Kuwaitis and third-country nationals who disappeared at the hands of Iraqi authorities during or after the occupation of Kuwait, despite a Security Council resolution requiring it to do so.  Baghdad still refuses to allow independent human rights monitors to enter Iraq, despite repeated requests by U.N. Special Rapporteur for Iraq, Max Van der Stoel."


Mar. 5, 1999 - Bill Clinton, JD 

Human Rights Watch wrote in a July 1993 report titled "Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds" on www.hrw.org:

"Anfal--'the Spoils'--is the name of the eighth sura of the Koran. It is also the name given by the Iraqis to a series of military actions which lasted from February 23 until September 6, 1988. While it is impossible to understand the Anfal campaign without reference to the final phase of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, Anfal was not merely a function of that war. Rather, the winding-up of the conflict on Iraq's terms was the immediate historical circumstance that gave Baghdad the opportunity to bring to a climax its longstanding efforts to bring the Kurds to heel...

The campaigns of 1987-1989 were characterized by the following gross violations of human rights:

  • mass summary executions and mass disappearance of many tens of thousands of non-combatants, including large numbers of women and children, and sometimes the entire population of villages;
  • the widespread use of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and the nerve agent GB, or Sarin, against the town of Halabja as well as dozens of Kurdish villages, killing many thousands of people, mainly women and children;
  • the wholesale destruction of some 2,000 villages, which are described in government documents as having been 'burned,' 'destroyed,' 'demolished' and 'purified,' as well as at least a dozen larger towns and administrative centers (nahyas and qadhas);
  • the wholesale destruction of civilian objects by Army engineers, including all schools, mosques, wells and other non-residential structures in the targeted villages, and a number of electricity substations;
  • arbitrary arrest of all villagers captured in designated 'prohibited areas' (manateq al-mahdoureh), despite the fact that these were their own homes and lands;
  • arbitrary jailing and warehousing for months, in conditions of extreme deprivation, of tens of thousands of women, children and elderly people, without judicial order or any cause other than their presumed sympathies for the Kurdish opposition. Many hundreds of them were allowed to die of malnutrition and disease"

July 1993 - Human Rights Watch (HRW)