UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on 2 December released a dossier cataloguing the human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein's regime, in what is being interpreted as an attempt to shore up public support for potential military action against Iraq. In less than a week, on 8 December, the Iraqi president must submit a full declaration of his weapons programmes, in which any 'false statement or omission' could be interpreted by the US as a 'material breach' of the latest UN resolution, and grounds for an attack.
The dossier, based chiefly on the testimony of former victims, as well as intelligence reports, paints a grim picture, alleging officially-sanctioned torture and rape. Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the report's timing, claiming it was a politically-motivated gesture, and asking why the government chose to release a report now when Saddam Hussein's human rights violations had been known of for years. The foreign secretary denied these charges, saying that the aim was to remind the world that the Iraqi president's abuses extended well beyond the illegal pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.