Washington failed to prove Gen. Soleimani was threat to American interests: UN investigator

July 12, 2020 - 21:30

TEHRAN - Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has said that the United States violated the principle of sovereignty by assassinating Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in early January.

In an interview with Al Mayadeen, she said that Washington failed to prove that the assassination was carried out to protect U.S. interests, ISNA reported on Sunday.

Callamard said on Thursday that the U.S. targeted killing of Soleimani was unlawful and risked eroding international laws that govern the conduct of hostilities, The New York Times reported.

“Absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the U.S. was unlawful,” Callamard wrote in a report that she presented on Thursday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She said that the U.S. attack on Soleimani was the first targeted drone killing of a senior foreign government official on the territory of a third country.

“It is hard to imagine that a similar strike against a Western military leader would not be considered as an act of war,” she wrote.

As a result of the killing, the international community faced “the very real prospect that states may opt to ‘strategically’ eliminate high ranking military officials outside the context of a ‘known’ war, and seek to justify the killing on the grounds of the target’s classification as a ‘terrorist’ who posed a potential future threat,” Callamard said in her report.

On January 3, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered airstrikes that martyred General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in Baghdad’s international airport.

Soleimani was recognized internationally as a legendary commander in the war against terrorist groups, especially Daesh (ISIS).

Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva, has condemned the U.S. assassination of Soleimani as an act of state terrorism that has endangered world peace and security.

Addressing a regular session of the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, Baghaei Hamaneh described the assassination as an “illegal measure” and a “big crime”.

He said the U.S. and the country that hosted the American drones used in the killing of General Soleimani must be held accountable for the atrocity, Tasnim reported.

The U.S. action was a violation of international law, the UN Charter and international human rights law (IHRL), the Iranian envoy said, adding that the assassination was an immoral and dangerous action.

Washington must not be allowed to justify such illegal measure under any pretext, Baghaei Hamaneh stated.

Benjamin Friedman, from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, said the killing could be construed as an act of war.

"This attack is different from all the drone strikes because it targeted a senior figure in Iran's government," he told Al Jazeera. "It seemed like an act of war and an assassination."

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