'14,000 detained without trial in Iraq'
By Mike McDonough
03/06/03 "The Guardian"
-- -- US and UK forces in Iraq have detained
thousands of people without charge or trial for long periods and
there is growing evidence of Iraqi security forces torturing
detainees, Amnesty International said today.
In a new
report published today, the human rights group criticised
the US-led multinational force for interning some 14,000 people.
Around 3,800 people have been held for over a year, while another
200 have been detained for more than two years, the report - Beyond
Abu Ghraib: detention and torture in Iraq - said.
"It is a dangerous precedent for the world that the US and UK think
it completely defensible to hold thousands of people without charge
or trial," Amnesty spokesman Neil Durkin said.
The detainee situation in Iraq was comparable to Guantánamo Bay, he
added, but on a much larger scale, and the detentions appeared to be
"arbitrary and indefinite".
"It sends a very worrying message to the people of Iraq that the
multinational force does not think normal human rights standards
apply," he said.
Amnesty said there was no fresh evidence of US-led troops abusing
detainees in ways similar to Abu Ghraib prison, but it warned that
the US practice of denying detainees access to lawyers or visits by
relatives for their first 60 days in custody left the door open to
"The worry is that people will suffer abuse during that period and
it is less likely to be checked if there is no form of external
oversight," Mr Durkin said.
The Amnesty report also claimed Iraqi security forces were
systematically violating the rights of detainees.
Many cases of torture, including electric shocks or beatings with
plastic cables, have been reported since US-led forces handed power
to Iraqi officials in June 2004, the document said.
Several detainees reportedly died in Iraqi custody last year, and
some of their bodies bore injuries consistent with torture, Amnesty
The report expressed particular concern about the activities of the
Wolf brigade, a unit that reports to the Iraqi interior ministry.
Mr Durkin insisted it was feasible for the Iraqi authorities to
implement international human rights standards despite the country's
extremely volatile security situation.
"We do not see what is unreasonable about abiding by human rights
standards in attempts to police Iraq," he said. "And you are not
going to fuel resentment to the same degree as if you imprison
people without charge, that is a recipe for disaster."
Amnesty acknowledged that armed groups opposed to the US-led force
were responsible for many of the abuses being committed in Iraq,
including attacks targeting civilians.
But the group said it had addressed that issue in earlier reports,
and that it was not the focus of its latest publication.
The vast majority of the 14,000 people held in Iraq are in US
British troops are holding 43 detainees at a facility in Shaiba,
southern Iraq, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said. Their
detention is subject to regular review by an internment panel, but
lawyers can only make written submissions.
Amnesty said it was concerned the lawyers do not have access to any
substantive evidence against their clients.
One man, Hillal "Abdul Razzaq" Ali al-Jedda, has been in British
custody since his arrest in October 2004. The 48-year-old dual Iraqi
and UK national has not been charged with any offence, and a court
of appeal judgment on his detention is awaited following a hearing
The Foreign Office said the UK followed UN guidelines for detaining
"We believe that the detention is legal and fair and subject to
review," a spokesman said.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
Click below to post a comment on this article
(In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes.
Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the
originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)