Iraq: A regime of torture



The government of "liberated" Iraq operates secret prisons and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them, Amnesty charged today.

The London-based rights watchdog released a report - Broken Bodies, Broken Minds - which estimates that 30,000 men and women remain in custody in post-Saddam Iraq, including about 1,300 on death row.

Amnesty said that some were languishing in secret facilities operated by the ministries of defence and the interior, which are believed to have close links to sectarian Islamist groups."Iraqi security forces use torture and other ill treatment to extract 'confessions' when detainees are held incommunicado, especially in detention facilities - some secret - controlled by the ministries of interior and defence," the report alleges.

Amnesty said that Iraq's Central Criminal Court often convicts defendants on the basis of "confessions" clearly obtained under torture.Accounts of torture collected over the years include "rape and the threat of rape, beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks, suspension by the limbs, piercing the body with drills, asphyxiation with plastic bags, removal of toenails with pliers, and breaking of limbs."

Amnesty noted that Iraq's Human Rights Ministry had recorded 509 allegations of torture by the country's security forces in a 2009 report but said that the figure was a "gross underestimate of the scale of the abuse."And it warned that US forces had handed over tens of thousands of prisoners to Iraqi custody between early 2009 and July 2010 without any guarantees that they would be protected.

In 2008 Iraq's parliament voted to join most of the rest of the world in banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners by signing up to the UN Convention Against Torture.But Iraq has still not filed its paperwork with the UN and "there is no indication that the government intends to," according to the report.

Iraqi MP Mahmoud Othman of the Kurdistan Socialist Party insisted that parliament intends to ratify the UN treaty but has been too busy trying to stabilise the occupied country to address it yet."The convention enjoys the support of all political blocks and nobody rejected it in the previous parliament," Mr Othman said.

By the
Morning Star Online - foreigneditor@peoples-press.com

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