IslamOnline.net & News Agencies – 2006-03-06 09:08:18
CAIRO (March 6, 2006) – Tens of thousands of detainees have been “arbitrarily” held by US-led forces in Iraq without charge or trial and have been denied the right to challenge their detention, an international human rights watchdog said on Monday, March 6.
“Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, tens of thousands of people have been detained by foreign forces, mainly the US forces, without being charged or tried and without the right to challenge their detention before a judicial body,” said Amnesty International.
In a report entitled “Beyond Abu Ghraib”, the London-based rights group said there were more than 14,000 security detainees in the custody of the US-led forces at the end of November 2005. “Some of the detainees had been held for more than two years without any effective remedy or recourse.”
The international watchdog asserted that other detainees have been released “without explanation or apology or reparation after months of detention.”
The 48-page-report some 4,710 were held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and 138 detainees at Camp Cropper — both in Baghdad. There were also some 7,365 detainees at Camp Bucca, near Basra, and 1,176 at Fort Suse, near Suleimaniya. A further 650 were held at other military facilities elsewhere in Iraq.
Ripe for Abuses
Amnesty International asserted that the “arbitrary” system of detention in Iraq is “a recipe for abuse.”
“As long as US and UK forces hold prisoners in secret detention conditions, torture is much more likely to occur, to go undetected and to go unpunished,” Amnesty’s UK Director Kate Allen said.
The report details human rights violations for which the US-led forces in Iraq were directly responsible as well as those increasingly committed by Iraqi security forces. “The record of these forces, including US forces and their United Kingdom allies, is an unpalatable one.”
The report cites the case of Kamal Muhammad, a 43-year-old father of 11 who has been held without charge by US forces for over two years. “His brother reports that he has received insufficient food and has lost some 20 kilos in weight in prison,” Amnesty said. It said over 200 detainees had been imprisoned for more than two years and nearly 4,000 for over a year.
“There are chilling signs that the lessons of Abu Ghraib have not been learnt,” Allen said. “Not only prisoners being held in defiance of international law, but the allegations of torture continue to pour out of Iraq.”
In February, an Australian television station broadcast new images of abuses of Iraqi prisoners at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
The latest grainy, still photographs and video images showed prisoners, some bleeding or hooded, bound to beds and doors, sometimes with a smiling American guard beside them. They include two naked men handcuffed together, a pile of five naked detainees photographed from the rear, and a dog straining at a leash close to the face of a crouching man wearing a bright orange jumpsuit.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) branded the horrific images as a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Ill-treatment
The rights group also accused Iraqi authorities of riding roughshod over international conventions by using torture and ill-treatment in detention facilities.
“Amnesty International is concerned that neither the (Multi-national Forces) MNF nor Iraqi authorities have established sufficient safeguards to protect detainees from torture or ill-treatment.” It urged the Iraqi, US and British authorities to take immediate action to ensure that the fundamental human rights of all detainees in Iraq are respected.
“Urgent, concrete steps should be taken to address the situation.
“This includes prompt, thorough and independent investigations into abuse allegations, and action against anyone found to have used, ordered or acquiesced in torture and the right of detainees to challenge their detention.”
On Sunday, March 5, UN special representative Ashraf Jahangir Qazi urged the Iraqi government to publish its findings on whether interior ministry-linked forces had abused detainees and carried out extra-judicial killings.
Dozens of people, mostly illegally-held Sunni detainees, were found by US forces in an underground interior ministry building, who had reportedly been abused. The Iraqi government said it would investigate the matter. Iraq’s Sunnis have repeatedly accused Shiite government-linked forces of kidnapping members of their community and illegally detaining or killing them.