continues at hands of interim Government
security forces are committing systematic torture and
other abuses against people in detention, Human Rights
Watch said in a new report released January 25, 2005.
As per the report, Torture and Ill-treatment of Detainees
in Iraqi Custody, documents how unlawful arrest, long-term
incommunicado detention, torture and other ill-treatment
of detainees (including children) by Iraqi authorities
have become routine and commonplace.
insurgent forces have committed numerous unlawful attacks
against the Iraqi police, this does not justify the abuses
committed by Iraqi authorities, the report said.
people of Iraq were promised something better than this
after the government of Saddam Hussein fell," said
executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East
and North Africa Division. "The Iraqi Interim Government
is not keeping its promises to honour and respect basic
human rights. Sadly, the Iraqi people continue to suffer
from a government that acts with impunity in its treatment
of torture cited by detainees include routine beatings
to the body using cables, hosepipes and other implements.
Detainees report kicking, slapping and punching; prolonged
suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind
the back; electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body,
including the earlobes and genitals; and being kept blindfolded
and/or handcuffed continuously for several days. In several
cases, the detainees suffered what may be permanent physical
also reported being deprived by Iraqi security forces
of food and water, and being crammed into small cells
with standing room only. Numerous detainees described
how Iraqi police sought bribes in return for release,
access to family members or food and water.
report details serious and widespread human rights violations
since 2003, against both alleged national security suspects,
including insurgents, and suspected common criminals.
It also highlights serious violations committed by Iraq's
national intelligence service since mid-2004, principally
against members of political parties deemed to constitute
a threat to state security.
Rights Watch said its investigations in Iraq over a four-month
period between July and October 2004 found the systematic
use of arbitrary arrest, prolonged pre-trial detention
(up to four months in some cases) without judicial review,
torture and ill-treatment of detainees, denial of access
by families and lawyers to detainees, improper treatment
of detained children, and abysmal conditions in pre-trial
facilities. The report does not address the mistreatment
of persons in the custody of U.S. or other multinational
forces in Iraq.
Iraqi security forces obviously face tremendous challenges,
including an insurgency that has targeted civilians,"
unequivocally condemn the insurgents' brutality. But international
law is unambiguous on this point: no government can justify
torture of detainees in the name of security."
rare exception, the Iraqi authorities have failed to investigate
and punish officials responsible for violations. International
police advisers, primarily U.S. citizens funded through
the United States government, have turned a blind eye
to these rampant abuses.
the name of bringing security and stability to Iraq, both
Iraqi officials and their advisers have allowed these
abuses to go unchecked,"
said. "We have not seen the Iraqi police held accountable
for their actions."
Rights Watch's interviews included over 60 criminal suspects,
most of them referred to the Central Criminal Court in
Baghdad and accused of serious felonies, including terrorism,
abduction, money laundering, drug trafficking and acts
of sabotage. A smaller number accused of less serious
offences were held in police stations and referred to
Baghdad's other criminal courts.
poured cold water over me and applied electric shocks
to my genitals. I was also beaten by several people with
cables on my arms and back," said a 21-year-old man
arrested in July 2004 and accused of links with the Mahdi
Army. Another detainee arrested in June 2004 on charges
of possession of drugs said: "During the first three
days there as continuous torture. I was beaten with an
aluminium rod and withcables. … Then I was told
to sign a statement with my hands tied behind my back,
so I didn't even see the paper and I don't know what I
new Iraqi government requires more than a change of leadership
it requires a change of attitude about basic human dignity,"
Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to promptly
investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment
and bring to justice officials responsible for the abuse
of detainees. The government should take urgent steps
to ensure compliance with its domestic and international
legal obligations that would afford better protection
for detainees from abuse, and give serious consideration
to granting access to detention facilities under Ministry
of Interior authority to independent human rights monitoring
United States and other donors should ensure that international
advisers working with the Iraqi authorities on policing
and detentions should give immediate priority to assisting
in the establishment of a mechanism for the prompt reporting
and investigation of allegations of torture and ill-treatment,
including the setting up of an independent complaints
Human Rights Watch.