The U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January “was unlawful and arbitrary under international law,” a U.N. human rights investigator says, calling the drone strike in Baghdad a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
The investigator also says the U.S. has not produced any proof to back its claim that the attack was justified by the need to stop an imminent attack.
Soleimani was the highly influential commander of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. killed him in a targeted drone strike on Jan. 3, as Soleimani and others traveled in a convoy from Baghdad’s airport.
President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have said the U.S. targeted Soleimani — a key architect of Iran’s strategy in conflicts involving the U.S. — to prevent a looming threat.
After ordering the strike, Trump said Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks” against American interests.
But Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, says U.N. investigators found nothing to justify the U.S. rationale. She also says that because the January attack in Baghdad took place without Iraq’s consent, it violated Iraq’s sovereignty.
“No evidence has been provided that General Soleimani specifically was planning an imminent attack against US interests, particularly in Iraq, for which immediate action was necessary and would have been justified,” Callamard wrote in her report, which is being presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council later this week.
The U.S. will not take part in the Human Rights Council session — the Trump administration withdrew from the U.N. body two years ago, citing its controversial inclusion of countries such as Saudi Arabia and China.
Callamard says the U.S. attack in Iraq violated Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, which “prohibits the threat or use of force and calls on all Members to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of other States.”