Iraqi 'abuse' pics sees Red Cross and Amnesty top table

LONDON - The publication of photographs allegedly showing the abuse of Iraqi soldiers by coalition soldiers caused widespread outrage among human rights NGOs last month, driving the Red Cross, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to the top of April's NGO Watch table.

The Red Cross was quick to express its concern over the torture allegations, visiting Saddam Hussein to ensure he was being held according to international law. The NGO also garnered coverage for its role in giving aid to victims of the North Korean train blast, ensuring its return to the top of the table.

Prime Minister Tony Blair this week told MPs that he had not seen the Red Cross report detailing alleged abuses of Iraqis by British troops until Monday. He also denied that there was any evidence of "systematic abuse" of Iraqi prisoners by British troops as claimed by the Daily Mirror and with its now widely discredited "hoax" photographs.

Blair insisted that the Red Cross report was not passed to ministers in February and that he had not known about its allegations before he read it this week.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch also criticised the conduct of US and British troops in Iraq.

Amnesty has since called for an independent public investigation into the "numerous" complaints of Iraqi soldier abuse it claimed to have received, and Human Rights Watch condemned the amount of bombs dropped by British aircraft on Iraq as a "significant cause" of civilian casualties.

Friends of the Earth picked up 77 mentions after it accused tobacco giant BAT of "perverting" the meaning of social responsibility by overstating its social and environmental performance. It was also joined by the RSPB in its high-profile campaign against plans to develop a "super-port" in Essex on 65 hectares of wildlife habitat.

Greenpeace and Oxfam received similar levels of coverage for attacking the government -- Greenpeace over its calls to end the EU moratorium on GM maize and Oxfam over the government's refusal to reveal whether British firms have supplied components for Israeli Apache helicopters.

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