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Iraq planning to prosecute prison torture suspects: rights officials

[JURIST] Officials for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry have said that they plan to prosecute those suspected of torturing inmates of the country's prison system, according to a Wednesday report [AFP report]. The country signed on to the UN's Convention Against Torture [text] on Sunday, but has not yet explicitly prohibited the practice. Prosecutors say they will find a way to use existing laws to charge offenders. The officials say the have documented dozens of cases of torture in Iraqi-run detention facilities, and that United Nations Special Investigator on Torture Manfred Nowak [UN materials], who has voiced grave concern over conditions in the country [BBC report], plans to visit Iraq in October. In 2005 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] issued a report [HRW materials, press release] citing numerous incidents of torture and prisoner abuse in the country since the 2003 US invasion.

In November 2005 US troops found 173 prisoners [JURIST report], many abused, in a secret bunker run by the Interior Ministry. Earlier that year, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that Iraq's detention practices may violate international law and expressed concern [JURIST report] over the failure of Coalition forces to publish the results of their investigation into the torture allegations. In December 2005 Iraq Interior Minister Bayan Jabr [CBS profile] fired [JURIST report] Nouri al-Nouri, the country's senior inspector handling human rights issues, in connection with a torture scandal involving dozens of prisoners at a Baghdad prison. Jabr himself has been accused of running secret prisons [JURIST report] and controlling death squads, charges he has downplayed or denied [JURIST report].

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