The Iraqi government is operating secret prisons, and suspects held in Iraqi custody have been systematically tortured since before the 2003 US invasion, according to a Tuesday report [text, PDF] from Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. The report, "Broken Bodies, Tortured Minds: Abuse and Neglect of Detainees in Iraq," alleges that Iraqi and US forces have detained tens of thousands of people without trials, access to lawyers or opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) [JURIST news archive], according to the report, regularly convicts defendants based on confessions extracted with the use of torture and ill-treatment. AI claims that, upon release, prisoners often leave the detention centers with serious physiological and psychological injury:
After US forces handed over tens of thousands of prisoners to Iraqi custody between early 2009 and July 2010 without any guarantees that they will be protected, there is every likelihood that torture and ill-treatment will remain widespread. Such abuses have a devastating impact on the victims not just when they are being tortured or ill-treated, but often for years afterwards or even for the rest of their lives. Urgent action is needed to end the pattern of abuse and to help the victims and their families.Overcrowding and lack of medical treatment also contribute to the poor conditions enumerated in the report. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic] denied similar claims [AFP report] made by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] earlier this week.
Numerous human rights groups have responded to reports of detainee torture in Iraq. In September, AI published a report [text, PDF] alleging that the Iraqi government is unlawfully detaining and torturing [press release; JURIST report] thousands of detainees. In June, UN Special Representative to Iraq Ad Melkert urged the Iraqi government [JURIST report] to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. Melkert stated that Iraq had made several advances in recognizing human rights violations, but the government's policy implementation still faces several obstacles. The convention was adopted by the UN in 1984 and has been ratified by 147 countries. Iraq remains one of 45 member-countries that have yet to ratify the treaty. In April, HRW reported on the repeated torture [JURIST report] of Iraqi detainees in a secret prison in Baghdad. HRW reported that detainees held at the secret Muthanna facility, run by Iraqi authorities, were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, beaten, given electric shocks and sodomized during torture sessions that detainees faced every three to four days.