Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Amnesty: widespread torture and tens of thousands without trial in custody in Iraq

About 30,000 detainees are held without trial in Iraq although the Iraqi authorities have failed to provide precise figures. Ten thousand of those were recently transferred from US custody as their combat troops ended operations in Iraq. The US did that without asking guarantees against torture or ill-treatment.
 Torture is widely used in Iraq to obtain 'confessions'. In many cases these are already prepared by interrogators and detainees are forced to sign while blindfolded and without reading the contents.
Prepared confessions are often used as the only evidence against detainees when they are brought to trial, including in cases where the charges incur the death penalty.
That is what Amnesty International reporst in a report tahtw as released on Monday. Several detainees are known to have died in custody, apparently as a result of torture or other ill-treatment by Iraqi interrogators and prison guards, who regularly refuse to confirm their detention or whereabouts to relatives.
 More than 400 detainees were held in the secret prison at the old Muthanna airport, whose existence was revealed publicly in April 2010. Several of the detainees held there told Amnesty International they were detained on the basis of false information that Iraqi security forces obtained from secret informants.
They had been held without any access to the outside world and some were tortured or otherwise ill-treated during interrogation, apparently to make them confess to involvement in bombings or other crimes that could incur the death penalty.
Hundreds of prisoners are reported to have been sentenced to death, and some have been executed, after being convicted on the basis of "confessions" which they said were false and had been signed under torture or other duress.
Methods of torture include beating with cables and hosepipes, prolonged suspension by the limbs, administration of electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, breaking of limbs, removal of finger and toenails, asphyxiation and piercing of the body with drills, and psychological torture such as threats of rape.
Thousands of people also continue to be detained despite judicial orders issued for their release, and a 2008 Iraqi Amnesty Law, which provides for the release of uncharged detainees after between six and twelve months.
The report also highlights long term detentions in the northern Kurdistan region by the Asayish – Kurdish security police.
Amnesty asks the Iraqi government to show the political will to uphold the human rights of all Iraqis, in accordance with their international obligations, and to stop the torture and other gross abuses of detainees’ rights. It also asks for the release of detainees who have been held for long periods without recognizable criminal charges or for them  to stand trial in accordance with  international standards.

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