Torture blamed for detainee deaths
From correspondents in Washington
Australian" -- -- AT least eight detainees of the
roughly 100 who have died in US military custody in Iraq and
Afghanistan were tortured to death, human rights lawyers said in
a report released today.
"These are detainees who were beaten, suffocated or otherwise
died in circumstances that meet the definition of torture that
is in the federal law that bans the practice," said Hina Shamsi,
a lawyer for New York-based Human Rights First and author of the
Analysing military documents and press accounts, Human Rights
First examined 98 detainee deaths, and concluded that torture by
US military personnel caused eight deaths and may have been
responsible for four others.
All of the deaths have been disclosed previously.
The Pentagon said at least 108 detainees have died in US custody
in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, not counting those killed in
insurgent mortar attacks on jail facilities.
"Critically, only half of the cases of detainees tortured to
death have resulted in punishment; the steepest sentence for
anyone implicated in a torture-related death has been five
months in jail," the report said.
The military has said it has a policy against torture, but has
acknowledged using interrogation techniques that include placing
detainees in stress positions.
US soldiers at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq were also pictured
sexually humiliating prisoners and menacing them with dogs.
The report said that of the 98 deaths it examined, only 12 led
to punishment of any kind for US personnel.
"People are dying in US custody and no one's being held to
account," said Deborah Pearlstein, who heads the Human Rights
First US law and security program.
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