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L. Paul Bremer, III
Coalition Provisional Authority
Victims’ Compensation Fund
26 May 2004

Sayidaati  u Saadati

Iraq is an immensely better place than it was before liberation last April.

One fact towers above all others in the Iraqi political landscape.

The Iraqi people want a government that is responsive to their needs. They know that democracy, a government which must respond to their ballots, is the path to follow.

And the path they wish to follow is well-marked. The Interim Government appointed within the coming week will assume full, sovereign power on June 30. Elections will follow next January and a popularly elected government will take over from that Interim Government.

This is a legitimate democratic process and the coming elections are an indispensable part of a responsable government. But truly responsive governments look past the ballot box for ways to serve their people. Responsive governments consider past wrongs by the state and search for ways to correct or mitigate them.

A responsive Iraqi government must consider and react, in tangible fashion, to the wrongs done to the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein, his family and the criminals in the Baath Party.

Hundreds of thousands were deliberately murdered by Saddam as he attempted to suppress all dissenting voices. The Iraqi landscape is littered and scarred with the mass graves of those killed by Saddam. The survivors in Halabja are living reminders that he used chemical weapons against his own people.

Tens of thousands were tortured and raped as a matter of state policy. Vast numbers of Iraqis lost their jobs as punishment by a hateful regime.

And while future Iraqi governments will not be morally responsible for Saddam’s cruelties to his own people, simple justice, a decent respect for the suffering of the Iraqi people requires that these governments consider how to compensate the Iraqi victims of state oppression.

To further that process, I have created The Special Task Force for Compensation of Victims of the Previous Regime. For an initial endowment I have set aside $25 million from the Development Fund for Iraq. This certainly will not be a sufficient sum to compensate all of Saddam’s victims, but it is a beginning.

To head the Task Force I have appointed the head of the Iraqi Bar Association, Dr. Malek Dohan al-Hassan. Dr. Malek will appoint his two assistants. Dr. Malek is a highly respected attorney who will bring long experience to this difficult task.

I have asked Dr. Malek to present to the Interim Iraqi Government a plan to compensate Saddam’s Iraqi victims in part for what they have suffered. I say “in part” because no compensation can ever be truly adequate for the fatherless child, the widow, or the permanently disabled. Dr. Malek is to present his plan to the Interim Iraqi Government by August 1, 2004.

While Dr. Malek is free to organize his work in the manner he thinks best suited to meet the needs of the new government, I have suggested to him that his report cover four areas:

• First, his task force must define the categories of victims. Which groups of people will be included, for instance, those who were imprisoned, tortured, fired from their jobs and the survivors of those killed.
• Secondly, with categories of victims established, it will be necessary to devise a means for estimating the number of Iraqis in each category of victims.
• Third, Dr. Malek will also need to make some estimate of what constitutes fair compensation for each category of victims.
• Lastly, he will need to recommend a system by which people can come forward to claim compensation as well as a system for their claims to be adjudicated.

Dr. Malek, you have a great and important task before you. It will require not only keen analysis, but a keen sense of justice. I know you have the qualities that are needed to carry out this duty.

I salute you for undertaking this difficult but necessary task. I know you have done this because you understand that the healing of the Iraqi people must begin somewhere. And where better to begin than by compensating the victims of Iraqi state terrorism?

Thank you again for taking on this solemn job.


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