Date: Fri, 1 Nov 96 18:03:19 CST
Resent-From: "Rich Winkel" <>
From: (Elias Davidsson)
Subject: Iraq: Child killings not necessarily illegal ? Icelandic view
Information for ACTION !

Icelandic State Prosecutor Says Child Killings Not Necessarily Illegal

By Elias Davidsson, 1 November 1996

In a landmark decision, the Icelandic State Prosecutor, Mr. Hallvardur Einvardsson, dismissed the claim that complicity in child killings necessarily constitutes a penal offense.

This decision was taken as a response to an appeal sent by the undersigned on 14 May 1996 to the State Prosecutor regarding the alleged complicity of a former Icelandic government official in causing the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq through wilfull deprivation and starvation (UN trade sanctions against Iraq). This former official formally endorsed Iceland's participation in the comprehensive trade sanctions against the Iraqi people, which according to FAO and UNICEF reports, have caused the deaths of over 200,000 children.

In a detailed legal memorandum attached to the appeal (which can be consulted under my web pages, see URL below), evidence of widespread deaths of Iraqi civilians is presented as well as the causes for these deaths. A legal analysis of these killings is presented in the light of international law and responsibility is attributed in accordance with existing principles of international humanitarian law. Neither the evidence nor the legal reasoning has been challenged by any independent, public body.

The Icelandic State Prosecutor did not deem necessary to buttress his rejection of the appeal on legal or other factual grounds. His unsubstantiated dismissal of the case can only be understood in one way: That acts that deprive hundreds of thousands of civilians of their most fundamental human rights, including the right to life, are not necessarily illegal, that evidence about these acts and their consequences, do not constitute a sufficient reason for initiating a legal inquiry, and that the ultimate assessment of the legality of such acts can be carried out by himself as the sole judge of the evidence presented and without any form of public accountability.

Regardless whether the above decision by the Icelandic State Prosecutor is constitutional or whether it adheres to the jus cogens of international law, it reflects a blatant disdain for the rule of law and for basic human rights. It is disgrace for the people of Iceland.

In view of the liberty with which both politicians and judician authorities juggle with basic human rights and the principles of law, it is important to uphold such rights and principles whenever they are trampled upon. The alternative is that such rights will be further undermined until we find ourselves one day deprived of our basic means of ensuring democracy and the rule of law.

I urge therefore readers to send a letter to their nearest Icelandic Embassy or to Prime Minister of Icelandc, Mr. David Oddsson, Reykjavik, ICELAND (this should suffice as address) requesting that a formal inquiry be initiated regarding the legality of Iceland's participation in acts that lead to the deaths of thousands of children.

I would be thankful to obtain a copy of your letter (either by regular or by email).


Elias Davidsson,
composer and human rights activist