Philip Alston
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"Philip G. Alston" is an international law scholar and human rights practitioner. He is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at NYU Law School/New York University School of Law, and co-Chair of the law school's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. In human rights law, Alston has held a range of senior UN appointments for over two decades, including United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, a position he held from August 2004 to July 2010.

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The government is, in effect, instructing its forces to shoot innocent people, in complete disregard for the right to life.

The dangerous escalation of the conflict in recent days is a direct consequence of killings being allowed to run unchecked.

Every such killing represents a major setback to the peace process, and every retaliatory death plays into the hands of those whose interests do not lie in the restoration of peace.

Under international law, widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population are crimes against humanity.

The purpose of these killings has been to repress and divide the population for political gain.

When defense lawyers are murdered, the rule of law is doubly at stake. Human rights law requires that all murders be investigated in a credible manner. Moreover, defense attorneys are critical to a fair trial, and their systematic assassination threatens the entire process.

An independent investigation is essential because these killings have huge implications for efforts to establish the rule of law in Iraq.