Seized Iraqi Security Documents: Assembling Evidence for a Case of Genocide
Seized Iraqi Security Documents:
Assembling Evidence for a Case of Genocide
This talk will recount aspects of Human Rights Watch's experience handling 18 metric tons of seized Iraqi security documents. In 1992, Human Rights Watch researchers were entrusted with the analysis of 847 boxes of documents taken by Kurdish militias from the offices of Ba'ath Party security agencies in northern Iraq. After an exhaustive analysis, these documents provided an important "evidentiary" basis for HRW's conclusion that the Iraqi government had committed genocide against the Kurdish population in northern Iraq in 1988. We relied on the documents to press states -- unsuccessfully -- to bring a case of genocide at the International Court of Justice against the government of Iraq in 1994-95. The materials became part of the public domain and were subsequently used by many analysts. The documents, their analysis and ultimate role highlight the contribution and challenges of large document caches in the hands of one human rights research and advocacy organization.