[JURIST] The Iraqi government is unlawfully detaining and torturing [press release] thousands of detainees, according to a Monday report from Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. The report, “New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful Detention in Iraq” [text, PDF] estimates that more than 30,000 detainees are currently being held in Iraqi prisons where they are tortured and mistreated, have no access to legal representation and are held indefinitely without visits from family members. Detainees are reportedly tortured during interrogations in order to obtain confessions, which are then used as evidence against them. In addition, many more uncharged detainees are being held despite judicial orders for their release. According to a 2008 Iraqi amnesty law [JURIST report], uncharged detainees are to be released after a period of six to 12 months in detention. The report recommends Iraqi prison authorities follow proposed guidelines to help protect detainees, including immediately halting the ill treatment of prisoners and ensuring the detainees are given full due process rights and access to legal representation. AI also urged the US and Iraqi authorities to respect international human rights law for the protection of prison detainees by immediately releasing any uncharged detainees:
Amnesty International has frequently called on both the US and Iraqi authorities to release detainees held for long periods unless they are formally charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried according to international standards of fair trial. The practice of arbitrary detention flouts both Iraqi legislation and international human rights law.
Iraqi Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim and a US military spokesman both refuted [Reuters report] the AI investigation, saying that all detainees are being held on judicial warrant and that the report is “baseless” and the claims of detainee mistreatment are “not true.”
The repeated reports of detainee torture in Iraq have caused concern among several human rights groups. 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, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] 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.