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Iraq beating, unlawfully arresting protesters: HRW

Iraqi police forces have been beating and illegally detaining protesters over the past week, according to a report [text] released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. Demonstrators are reported to be peacefully protesting, or simply organizing protests, when interrogated and detained. The report details several incidents of protester abuse.

Several activists in the capital told Human Rights Watch that they believed that the increased security at Baghdad's Tahrir Square and the recent arrests were an attempt to head off reinvigoration of public protests, amid efforts by various small protest groups to work together. They said that neighborhood officials had warned them that security forces had made increased inquiries into the activists' whereabouts and activities over the past two weeks.
Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a similar report [text] earlier this week, decrying many of the same incidents. AI calls for Iraqi authorities to end their assault on peaceful protests, and HRW asks that the government investigates the attacks and charge or release those demonstrators being held.

Numerous human rights groups have accused Iraq of detainee torture and other human rights violations. AI alleged in February that the Iraqi government is operating secret prisons [JURIST report], and suspects held in Iraqi custody have been systematically tortured since before the 2003 US invasion. In September, AI published a different report alleging that the Iraqi government is unlawfully detaining and torturing [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 2010, 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.

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