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L. Paul Bremer
Address to the Iraqi People
For Broadcast at 1730 19 September 2003

Masaa al Khair.

I am Paul Bremer, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

On March 16, 1988 Ali Hassan al-Majid, “Chemical Ali,” directed the Iraqi Air Force to drop chemical weapons on Halabja. That one attack on Kurdish citizens of Iraq killed 5,000 people and injured 10,000 more. The broader “Anfal” campaign killed 182,000 people. 

When I visited Halabja on Monday the people of Halabja showed us the museum they created so that the dead would be remembered, so that the atrocity would be remembered. It was a very moving memorial to Saddam’s brutality.

But the people of Halabja hope for more than remembrance.

They hope for justice.

Halabja’s hope for justice will be fulfilled. 

Chemical Ali, who is now in jail, will be tried.

* * *

But most of today’s crimes flow from eternal human weaknesses like greed, rage, and lust. These common crimes, theft, rape, robbery, murder and the rest are known in all societies. But they happen with terrible frequency in Iraq.


Saddam emptied the prisons last October, putting 100,000 former prisoners on the streets. Most of them were criminals. When Saddam disappeared, the police force and his justice system disappeared with him, but the criminals he freed stayed on your streets.

So, like the people of Halabja, all Iraqis hope for justice.

What is required to bring justice?

Justice requires laws that are firm, but fair. 

Justice requires jails to hold the accused until they face trial.

Justice requires lawyers to assure that the accused can defend themselves against their accusers.

Justice requires functioning courts and independent judges.

Justice requires prisons to hold those convicted of crimes.

Justice requires a system that protects the rights of the accused. Protecting the rights of the accused does not coddle criminals. It protects you against the kind of abuses that were common under Saddam and his Baathist regime.

What is being done to meet the requirements of justice?

The Coalition has worked hard to ensure that 34,000 Iraqi police officers are now on the streets. And there are plans to increase the number of police and other security forces.

But more and better trained police are only one part of bringing law, order and justice to Iraq. 

The Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition are cooperating to bring about real justice for all Iraqis. 

Progress is not as fast as anyone would like, but the foundations are laid. Your forthcoming constitution will cement them into place.

There is more to be done, but there is justice in today’s Iraq.

In the new Iraq, and of all the Gulf States only in Iraq, are judges formally free of political control. Your new Minister of Justice announced on Saturday, September 13 that judges no longer report to his Ministry.

In the new Iraq the president’s son can no longer decide that losing a football game is a crime and then torture Iraq’s athletes.

In the new Iraq anyone who tortures a prisoner is a criminal and subject to prosecution.

In the new Iraq the police and the Coalition arrest people suspected of crimes. As evidence is examined, they are either set free or held for trial.

In the new Iraq there are hundreds of people in jail awaiting trial and that number grows daily.

In the new Iraq more than 300 courts are open, examining the evidence and applying the law.

In the new Iraq the captain and first mate of a large tanker are in jail, charged with stealing Iraqi oil.

In the new Iraq the former mayor of Najaf is charged with illegally detaining the citizens he was supposed to protect. Now he is in jail.

In the new Iraq the Coalition has seized seven ships full of smuggled fuel. If a trial shows that the fuel was smuggled, the ships and the fuel become the property of the Iraqi people.

* * *

The people of Iraq hope for justice. You are not alone. The United States is going to help you make Iraq safer and more secure. 

President George W. Bush has asked the U.S. Congress for $2,000 million for public safety. This money will be spent on larger and better police and fire, customs and border services. 

President Bush has also asked for an additional $900 million for courts, jails, prisons and related institutions.

In the new Iraq much has been done, much more will be done.

You, the people of Iraq, hope for justice.

Your hopes will be fulfilled. 

You will have justice.

Thank you.


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