Summary executions


Response from the Government of Thailand dated 5 September 2007



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Response from the Government of Thailand dated 5 September 2007
By letter dated 5 September 2007 the Government indicated that the official response on the case will be submitted later and provided the Special Rapporteur with a general clarification of the Royal Thai Government on the Executive Decree on Government Administration in Emergency Situations, which was applicable to the present case. The Government reiterated that the Decree did not limit the rights contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that all safeguards required under international law are guaranteed by national legislation and that torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are prohibited by the Criminal Code.
Thailand: Appointment of an Independent Committee to Investigate Extrajudicial Killings during the “War on Drugs” in 2003
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur looks forward to being provided with information on the progress and outcome of the investigations of the Independent Committee.
Allegation letter dated 28 August 2007
I welcome the reported approval by the Cabinet of the Government of Thailand of an Independent Committee to investigate a significant number of extrajudicial killings during the so-called “crackdowns” on drug users and traffickers beginning in 2003. My predecessor wrote to the previous Government on 25 February, 2003 and on 1 April 2004 raising concerns about the lack of thorough and independent investigations into the killings and into the allegations of the involvement of security forces in a number of cases, without the issues being satisfactorily resolved. I would be grateful therefore to be notified of the outcome of the planned investigations referred to above.
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. I undertake to ensure that your Government’s response is accurately reflected in the report that I will submit to the UN Human Rights Council for its consideration.
Finally, I wish to emphasize that my request for an invitation to visit Thailand is still outstanding and I hope that in light of changed circumstances in Thailand an invitation can now be extended.

United Kingdom: Expulsion of Sajmir Khepmetaj, an Albanian national
Violation alleged: Expulsion, refoulement or return of persons to a country or a place where their lives are in danger
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the United Kingdom has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 28 August 2007
I am writing concerning Mr Sajmir Khepmetaj an Albanian national who I understand was refused refugee status in the United Kingdom and is alleged to be at risk of being killed if he returns to Albania.
According to information I have received, Mr Khepmetaj who is partly of Roma ethnic origin from Komsi near to the town of Burrel is at risk of being killed in the course of a “blood feud”. It is my understanding that in 1999 Mr Khepmetaj was kidnapped by the Kola gang and threatened with death unless he provided information on the whereabouts of his cousin, Alfred who belonged to the Dedja gang. This apparently happened against the background of two prior killings of members of the Dedja clan and control exerted by the Kola gang in his town. Mr Khepmetaj’s provision of information regarding the location of Alfred apparently led to the latter’s killing days later. Subsequently Mr Khepmetaj reported that his father was kidnapped and his brother was threatened with death by the Dedja clan. An attempt on the life of Mr Khepmetaj was made by the Dedja gang using a hand grenade resulting in extensive injuries and hospitalisation to him. Mr Khepmetaj also cited a subsequent bomb attack on the family home leading his family to relocate to the city of Durres. Mr Khepmetaj reported that he was subsequently detained by the police in Durres and assaulted, together with other members of his family. The police enquired what he had done for someone to have bombed his house. In detention Mr Khepmetaj reported seeing Halit Dedja who was said to have worked for the police in the past and have a network of informers.
I note the very limited capacity of police to provide protection in Albania, a problem reported upon by the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Juan Miguel Petit in his report on his mission to Albania, 31 October to 7 November 2005 ( see E/CN.4/2006/67/Add.2, para 75). The report also finds that members of Roma families easily fall victim of criminal groups in that country (see para, 52).
Because of the way in which I interpret the appropriate limits of my mandate I would not normally write on behalf of someone reportedly at risk if returned. I have decided to do so in the present case, however, because the information available to me seems to give cause for serious concern in terms of protection of the right to life. I would therefore urge Your Excellency’s Government to review the matter and not to proceed with the return unless it has satisfied itself that the fears expressed above are not well grounded.
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights, extended by the Human Rights Council and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. I undertake to ensure that your Government’s response is accurately reflected in the report that I will submit to the UN Human Rights Council for its consideration.
United States of America: Impunity for the Killing of Abed Hamed Mowhoush
Violation alleged: Impunity
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male (foreign national)
Character of reply: Largely satisfactory response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur appreciates the information provided by the Government of the United States in relation to the killing of Abed Hamed Mowhoush.
Allegation letter dated 22 August 2006
I am writing about the case of Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr., who, according to the information I have received, was found guilty of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty by a jury of six-officers on 21 January 2006 in Colorado. The jury acquitted Chief Welshofer of murder and assault charges. On 24 January 2006, it imposed a sentence that comprised a fine of US$6,000, confinement to his base and place of worship for two months, and a letter of reprimand.
The charges against Chief Welshofer related to the death of Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush, an Iraqi general who had turned himself in to military authorities. During an interrogation on 23 November 2003 in Qaim, Iraq, Officer Welshofer forced Maj. Gen. Mowhoush head first into a sleeping bag and sat on his chest. The general, who was fifty-seven years old and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds, died shortly thereafter.
I bring the case to your attention for two reasons. First, I am deeply concerned that the sentence imposed on Chief Welshofer may not be proportionate to the gravity of the offence. Chief Welshofer has clearly been prosecuted and convicted. Nonetheless, I am concerned that his sentence permits United States military personnel to operate with the expectation of a fair degree of impunity when employing life-threatening interrogation techniques. The maximum sentence that Chief Welshofer faced for the offence of negligent homicide was three years imprisonment. The sentence handed down falls so short of the maximum that it would appear to send the message that Chief Welshofer’s crime was not a serious one.
The second issue of concern to me is the military’s apparent failure to comprehensively investigate either (i) systemic breakdowns that may have contributed to Maj. Gen. Mowhoush’s death or (ii) the possibility that Officer Welshofer’s superior officers may have implicitly or expressly sanctioned the interrogation techniques that ultimately proved fatal.
According to the information received, at his trial, Chief Welshofer reportedly testified that he was not adequately trained to conduct interrogations in Iraq prior to his deployment and that he received little guidance about how to conduct interrogations once there. He testified that months before Maj. Gen. Mowhoush’s death he had received a memorandum from a senior officer, which said that senior personnel “wanted the gloves to come off” in interrogations and sought “an interrogation techniques wish list” from interrogators. Chief Welshofer also testified that he had received prior approval from Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez before escalating the interrogation methods used with Maj. Gen. Mowhoush. The interrogation of this prisoner seems to have been considered of great importance because of his high-ranking position under the previous regime and also because he was thought to be a central figure in the Iraqi insurgency. In the face of this evidence, the failure to investigate the possible responsibility of higher-ranking officials in the death of Maj. Gen. Mowhoush may send an additional message of impunity.
As you are aware, human rights law requires States to effectively investigate, prosecute, and punish individuals responsible for arbitrary deprivations of life (see the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Arts. 2 and 6(1)). Inasmuch as the right to life is non-derogable, these obligations do not cease to apply during armed conflict (see ICCPR, Art. 4). The requirements of the Geneva Conventions are also relevant, because Maj. Gen. Mowhoush was either a prisoner of war or a person detained on suspicion of activities hostile to the security of an occupying power. Under the Geneva Conventions, States must “take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to [their] provisions” (see Geneva III, Art. 129; Geneva IV, Art. 146). Among other measures, this obligation entails the imposition of “effective penal sanctions” for grave breaches, including “willful killing”, “torture or inhuman treatment”, and “willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health” (see Geneva III, Arts. 129, 130; Geneva IV, Arts. 146, 147). As discussed above, there is reason to doubt that the penal sanctions imposed on Chief Welshofer will be effective in preventing future violations of these international obligations.
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly to seek to clarify all such cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these cases to the Commission, I would be grateful for your cooperation and observations on the following matters:
(i) Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate?
(ii) Please provide the text of any final judgment of the court martial in the case of Chief Welshofer.
(iii) Please provide transcripts of the proceedings in Chief Welshofer’s case.
(iv) Please provide information regarding further investigations that the United States Government might be carrying out in relation to this matter.
Response from the Government of the United States dated 11 April 2008
The Government of the United States of America informed that Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, Jr. was convicted at a general court-martial in 2006 of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty for his part in the death of Major General Mowhoush.
Regarding the request for documents related to these proceedings, the Government referred to documents recently released by the Department of the Army in response to a request made under the Freedom of information Act by the American Civil Liberties Union. These documents have been posted at http://www.aclu.org/natsec/foia/log2.html (see separate pdf files listed under "Army Bates 10652 - 11421: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9").
Finally the Government informed that there were no further pending investigations into this incident.
United States of America: Killing of Civilians in Nangrahar Province on 4 March 2007
Violation alleged: Violations of the right to life during armed conflict
Subject(s) of appeal: 12 persons
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the United States has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 9 May 2007
I am writing about an incident that reportedly took place on 4 March 2007 in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan, in which the United States Marine Corps Special Forces killed 12 civilians. It is my understanding that a Special Forces vehicle convoy travelling along the Torkham to Jalalabad highway was hit by a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) resulting in the deaths of the vehicle driver and at least one injured Marine.
According to information that I have received:
Following the attack, US Forces repeatedly shot at vehicles and pedestrians at the site of the attack, as well as at different locations along the next 16km of road. It is my understanding that a US Forces Military Spokesperson stated to the media on the 5 March 2007 that the suicide attack may have been part of a complex ambush in which the convoy came under small arms fire immediately after the explosion, although, according to information that I have received, witnesses and Government officials denied that any attack beyond the initial explosion took place. These witnesses stated that several vehicles including taxis, minibuses, and a coaster bus as well as a number of pedestrians and bystanders came under attack by the American convoy in at least six different locations. My understanding is that the Afghan National Police stated that after the incident international forces returned to the site and were involved in a comprehensive clean up operation, collecting all shells, magazines and cartridges from the area.
It is my understanding that a media release of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command, US Central Command (CFSOCC) dated 11 April, 2007 announced the completion of its investigation into the 4 March incident and that “the investigation revealed the actions taken by some of the special operators in the Convoy following the SVBIED attack appear to warrant a further enquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS). Accordingly this matter is referred to NCIS for appropriate action”.
Without in any way wishing to pre-judge the accuracy of the information received, it is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on this case to the Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Is the information according to which United States forces killed 12 civilians in Afghanistan on 4 March, 2007 accurate?
2. Does your Excellency’s Government intend to provide compensation to the families of the civilians killed above? If so, what steps have been taken in this direction?
3. Kindly provide a copy of the investigation(s) carried out by the United States Military into the above incident. In particular, I would request information relevant to the determination of whether each decision to resort to lethal force complied with the applicable international law.
4. Kindly provide details of any disciplinary action or criminal proceedings against those soldiers found to be responsible.
United States of America: Impunity for killings by members of the armed forces
Violation alleged: Violations of the right to life during armed conflict; Impunity
Subject(s) of appeal: 4 males, 1 unknown sex
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the United States has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 23 May 2007
I have received information regarding a number of incidents in which there would appear to be significant evidence that members of the armed forces committed such crimes as murder and manslaughter in violation of provisons of the United States’ Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The crimes would, of course, also constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. However, the information that I have received suggests that these cases were not submitted to court martial.
There are five such incidents that I would like to raise with your Government:
1. According to information that I have received, the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) investigated an Iraqi death occurring on or about 19 June 2003, in which “a US army soldier fatally shot an Iraqi national at the Safwan Bypass, Safwan, Iraq. Investigation established probable cause to believe SPC [omitted] committed the offense of … Voluntary Manslaughter when he disregarded the standing rules of engagement and intentionally shot and killed Mr. Mattar for stealing a box of MRE’s.” (Army CID Report of 8 September 2003, No. 0181-03-CID519-62190-5H1R/5H2/5Y2B9/9G2B/9G2C.) It is my further understanding that the CID report concluded: “This investigation is being terminated … in that the action commander has indicated intent to take no action against the subject and no further investigative assistance is required by the commander.” The information that I have received suggests that no court martial took place in relation to this incident, despite the finding by Army CID that voluntary manslaughter had been committed.
2. According to information that I have received, CID investigated a killing which occurred on 2 June 2003 in LSA Dogwood, Iraq. (Army CID Report of 4 August 2003, No. 0017-03-CID939-63985-5H3A/5Y2B0.) The extensive investigation, which included 46 attached exhibits, “established probable cause to believe that 1Lt [omitted] committed the offense of Involuntary Manslaughter … when 1LT [omitted] gave an unlawful order to SGT [omitted] 105th MP CO, to shoot the tires out of a fleeing vehicle, which violated the rules of engagement (ROE), a lawful order which 1LT [omitted] had a duty to obey, and resulted in the unlawful death of Mr. Hamza.” The report concluded that “the Staff Judge Advocate is of the opinion that significant admissible evidence is available to prosecute 1LT [omitted] for the offense[] of Involuntary Manslaughter”. Nevertheless, a Commander’s Report dated 10 September 2004 that I have received states that the involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped because “[a]lthough an unfortunate incident, 1LT [omitted] clearly had no intent to injure the fleeing Iraqi criminals.”
3. According to information that I have received, CID investigated a homicide which occurred on 12 August 2003 near Ad-Diwaniyah, Iraq in which “the victim and numerous other local nationals were attempting to sell items to members of a convoy. … [and] 1LT [omitted], SSG [omitted], and SSG [omitted] while performing their duties as the roving patrol for CSC Scania chased away the victim and other local nationals, who fled on foot, east from the MSR. SSG [omission] began pursuing the victim on foot after the victim threw a rock just missing him. 1LT [omission] assisted in the pursuit and, after cornering the victim, told the victim to stop, using both verbal commands and hand signals. The victim picked up a baseball-sized rock and threw it at 1LT [omitted], missing him. 1Lt [omitted] then again commanded the victim to stop and come to him. The victim picked up another baseball-sized rock and threw it at 1LT [omitted]. 1LT [omitted] ducked out of the way, stood back up and pulled the charging handle of his m4 loading a round into the chamber, in full view of the victim. The victim then picked up another baseball size rock and was attempting to throw it at 1LT [omitted] when he fired one (1) round from his M4 rifle, striking the victim in his left shoulder.” (Army CID Report of 25 September 2003, No. 0070-03-CID939-64002-5H6.) The case was closed because “the Staff Judge Advocate is of the opinion the shooting was a justifiable homicide and it is clear that no criminal act was involved.”
4. According to information that I have received, CID investigated a homicide that occurred on 17 August 2003 outside of Abu Gharib prison, in which “a soldier accidentally shot and killed a reporter from Reuters News Agency.” (CID Report of 20 January, 2004, No. 0143-03-CID259-61191-5H9C2.) It is my further understanding that the reporter, Palestinian journalist Mazen Dana, was filming outside the prison after having received a proper press permit from U.S. authorities. According to the CID report which I have reviewed, the soldier fired at Dana because “he believed Mr. Dana was a hostile combatant when he raised an unknown device to his shoulder, holding it with both hands. The soldier thought the device was a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) Launcher, but it was later determined to be a news agency videocamera.” The report concluded that the incident was therefore an “accidental death”, and the soldier was thus not prosecuted for any crime.
5. According to information that I have received, video footage by journalist Kevin Sites appears to depict a marine killing an unarmed and wounded Iraqi man in a Mosque at point blank range on 13 November 2004. In the video footage, one Marine can be heard yelling “He’s fucking faking he’s dead! He’s faking he’s fucking dead!” The Marine then fires directly at the apparently wounded man several times. Immediately following the shooting, another Marine can be heard stating “He’s dead now.” My understanding is that the Marine was investigated but not prosecuted.
While I do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, I would note that, if they were accurate they might give rise to concern about the extent to which your Government is consistently imposing effective penal sanctions for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and, more generally, consistently prosecuting and punishing the unlawful use of lethal force. (For further discussion of the law in this area, see E/CN.4/2006/53, paras. 33–43.)
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to clarify all such cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. For each of the incidents raised above, are the facts alleged in the case summary accurate?
2. For each of the incidents raised above, please provide information on any criminal, disciplinary, or administrative sanctions that were imposed.
3. For each of the incidents raised above, has your Government provided compensation to the victim’s family?
4. With respect to the incidents occurring on 2 June 2003 and on or about 19 June 2003, why was no prosecution conducted despite the investigator’s conclusion that the evidence indicated that crimes of involuntary manslaughter or voluntary manslaughter, respectively, had been committed? Was there any process to review decisions by commanders not to convene courts martial?
5. With respect to the incidents that occurred on 12 August 2003, 17 August 2003, and 13 November 2004, what was the legal basis for concluding that no crimes had been committed? Please provide information on any measures your Government took to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.
6. Does your Government collect information on the initial disposition of offenses following a commander’s preliminary inquiry into allegations? If so, please provide data on how many allegations of murder or manslaughter result in no action being taken, administrative action, non-judicial punishment, or the convening of a court martial. Similarly, please provide data on the kinds of courts martial — summary, special, and general — that have been established in such cases.


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