From 1997 to 2003 I worked to get Saddam and the leading members of his regime prosecuted under international law for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – on the basis of rock-solid witness testimony – but no country was willing to do it. The evidence was finally used in the trials of Saddam, Tariq Aziz and others when eventually they stood trial in Baghdad – after the intervention.
In February 2003 the Kurds were terrified that chemical weapons would be used against them again. I saw the rockets in mountains on the Iraqi-Kurdish border.
Since 2003 more secrets of this evil and despotic regime have been revealed – I have stood on a huge mound in Hilla, near Babylon, where about 10,000 bodies in a mass grave were being disinterred, mostly Shia Muslims. On one of my more than 20 visits to Iraq as special envoy on human rights, I opened in Kurdistan the first genocide museum in Iraq. It was snowing, the sky was black, and people crammed into the building. Their relatives had been tortured – many to death – there. There were photos of skulls and shreds of clothing. Former detainees had written messages on the cell walls. Sometimes the writing was in blood and sometimes it was just marks to cross off the days of the week. One very old woman came up to me with a piece of plastic in her hand. I unwrapped it and saw three photos. They were of her husband and two sons who had been killed in that place.