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UN Security Council should address MNF-Iraq detainee policies: HRW

[JURIST] The UN Security Council should push the US [press release] to address human rights concerns over policies governing detainees held by US-led coalition forces in Iraq, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a Monday letter [text] to Council representatives. HRW accused the Multi-National Force-Iraq of holding thousands of detainees without proper judicial review, and said that MNF-I is improperly relying on Council Resolutions to justify holding them indefinitely:

[The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq] cited [in its most recent human rights report] correspondence with the US embassy in Baghdad to the effect that internationally recognized standards of due process are inapplicable to MNF security detentions in Iraq. Letters attached to Security Council resolutions 1546, 1637 and 1723 allow for "internment where this is necessary for imperative reasons of security." The United States has maintained that this language, which mimics language in the Fourth Geneva Convention, is the basis for the MNF applying the Fourth Geneva Convention more generally to the treatment of detainees in Iraq.

This expansive reading of resolution 1546 is contrary to the requirement under international law to interpret Security Council resolutions as being consistent with existing international norms. The Fourth Geneva Convention has not been applicable to Iraq since the declared end of the belligerent occupation. The detention of individuals pursuant to resolution 1546 and successive resolutions must be read in light of the currently applicable international law in Iraq.
HRW also said that some detainees may be subject to torture in custody. BBC News has more.

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