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Thousands of Iraqis illegally detained: UN rights official

[JURIST] The UN human rights chief in Iraq [JURIST news archive] said Friday that officials in that country are holding thousands of detainees in violation of Iraqi law and expressed concern about ongoing human rights [JURIST news archive] violations. According to Gianni Magazzeni, over 29,000 people are currently being detained in the country. Coalition forces are holding about 14,000 detainees for "urgent security reasons," a number that the UN believes is far too high. Magazzeni urged Coalition forces to release the prisoners or turn them over to Iraqi forces to be charged, as UN officials still do not have access to them. Regarding the 15,000 detainees being held by Iraqi authorities, only 8,300 are in the hands of the justice ministry, with the rest being held by the interior and defense ministries. Magazzeni emphasized that only the Iraqi justice ministry has the power to detain suspects for more than 72 hours.

Magazzeni also expressed concern Friday over increased reports of death squads [JURIST report] operating within various branches of the Iraqi security forces. Iraq Interior Minister Bayan Jabr [CBS News profile] reportedly admitted [BBC report; recorded video] April 12 that such squads exist, despite previously refuting similar claims [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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