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Torture prevention provisions in US-Iraq security agreement needed: HRW

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday called for the addition of a clause to the pending US-Iraqi security agreement [released excerpts, text] that would shield detainees from transfer to Iraqi custody [press release] in order to avoid risk of torture. The group wants a provision that would allow prisoners a "legitimate chance" to contest their transfer, along with provisions that would permit the US to inspect Iraqi detention facilities before final transfers take place. If approved, the security agreement would require that the US receive permission before making all future arrests and that all new suspects be turned over to Iraqi control within 24 hours. The terms of the transfer of about 17,000 detainees currently being held by the US in Iraq are not specified. Iraqi authorities admit that they are not prepared to take on the prisoners until they build more prisons and train guards. HRW also urged the US to ensure that the eventual transfers comply with the UN Convention Against Torture [text] and that those who remain in US custody be guaranteed treatment that complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text]. The New York Times has more.

The proposed security agreement, along with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [CFA Materials, JURIST report], would extend US forces' involvement in Iraq until 2011. Strong political opposition to the proposed agreement has caused both sides to consider asking the the UN for an extension of its current mandate [UN press release], which authorizes US troops to remain in Iraq only until the end of the year.

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