10 May 2004
BERLIN – On the eve of Monday’s trip to Washington, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer demanded that the United States punish those responsible for abusing prisoners in Iraq.
Using unusually harsh terms, Fischer said he was “shocked and disgusted” by photographs and reports of human-rights violations at US-run prisons in Baghdad.
“Those responsible must be punished,” he said in a weekend speech to Greens party delegates attending a state-wide party congress in Berlin.
“In the battle against terrorism, the law must not be defended through lawlessness,” he said.
“The worst defeat would be for us to abandon justice and liberty in the defence of justice,” he added.
But he cautioned his leftist party against taking “smirking glee” in the allegations that US military personnel engaged in abuse of Iraqi prisoners, saying, “This is not a time to engage in anti- Americanism.”
Fischer leaves Berlin Monday for the US capital, where he will confer with Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, along with Members of Congress.
On Wednesday he will return to Europe for Franco-German consultations in Paris ahead of next Friday’s G-8 foreign ministers meeting in Washington.
However, a report in Monday’s editions of Der Spiegel news magazine said it was doubtful whether Fischer would bring up the prisoner abuse issue in his talks with Powell and Rice the way he has made an issue of human rights with Russian and Chinese leaders.
Leading members of Fischer’s Greens party put pressure on him to bring up the issue during his Washington talks.
“It is high time that the German government took a very critical stance,” said Greens Deputy Chairman Hans-Christian Stroebele.
And the government’s special envoy for human rights, Claudia Roth, said, “This topic must be discussed in no uncertain terms.”
Subject: German news