- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

Iraqi sites visited
BAGHDAD A former U.N. humanitarian chief in Baghdad said says he visited two Iraqi sites suspected of producing weapons of mass destruction and found no sign that Iraq had rebuilt its arsenal.
Hans von Sponeck said Iraq allowed him and a crew from the German television station ARD to visit sites at Doura and Faluja near Baghdad where, he said, Western media had reported that Iraq might be producing weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Von Sponeck, who resigned from his post in March 2000 after criticizing the effects of U.N. sanctions on the Iraqi people, said there was no activity at the sites.
"Doura is as destroyed today as it was in 1999 when I was there last time," Mr. von Sponeck told reporters after his two-week visit to Iraq. Both sites "are closed. There is nothing. So if one reads in newspapers in the West that Doura is working again, then this is a lie. It is dishonest, but it shapes public opinion," he said.

ICC 'sour aftertaste'
NEW YORK The battle between the United States and supporters of the new International Criminal Court was the most contentious confrontation at the United Nations in many years and has left both sides bruised.
In a compromise Friday night, the United States got a yearlong exemption for American peacekeepers from prosecution by the court less than it initially demanded. But some supporters of the world's first permanent war- crimes tribunal said the legality of the council resolution is likely to be challenged.
After the unanimous Security Council vote, the United States threatened "serious consequences" if any American is detained by the court. The court's underlying principle that no one should be exempt from punishment for war crimes was dented.

Hanoi penalties faulted
GENEVA The U.N. Human Rights Committee said over the weekend that Vietnam should reduce the number of offenses that carry the death penalty and eventually move towards its abolition.
"There is concern about the large number of offenses for which the death penalty could be imposed," U.N. Human Rights Committee Chairman Prafullachandra Bhagwati said in a statement after a meeting here Saturday.
"Though the number of those offences has been reduced, it is still very large and it includes economic offenses like corruption," he added.
Vietnam's state press reported Saturday that President Tran Duc Luong had commuted the death sentences imposed on six men for murder, embezzlement and robbery to life imprisonment.

Afghan aid lagging
KABUL, Afghanistan A failure by the international community to honor aid pledges for the reconstruction of Afghanistan could plunge the country back into chaos, a senior United Nations official said yesterday.
Nigel Fisher, the U.N.'s deputy special representative to Afghanistan, said the transitional government still faces a funding shortfall in its budget that is stalling reconstruction efforts.
Mr. Fisher, just back from a U.N. conference in Geneva on Afghanistan, said donors had pledged to cough up more of the $4.5 billion over the next five years pledged at an earlier conference in Tokyo this year. But $397 million is still needed for assistance programs to continue as planned, he told reporters here.
Betsy Pisik is on vacation; her column will resume when she returns.

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