Thursday, September 30

30,000 Detainees Still Held Without Trial & Tortured in Iraq

One of the almost completely unreported negative consequences of the American misadventure in Iraq, and current handover of control to Iraqi Forces, is exactly how that nation's sadly dysfunctional government has been handling the tens of thousands of suspected insurgents, al Qeada wannabes and political dissidents that we've delivered on their doorstep as the U.S. gradually slide out through the side door.

And the prognosis is not pleasant as detailed in a new Amnesty International Report - "New Iraq, Same Old Abuses".

From Democracy Now

MALCOLM SMART (Amnesty International) : Well, I think part of the problem is really a problem of impunity. This has been going on for all too long, and there’s a culture of abuse that has taken root. It was certainly there during the days of Saddam Hussein, but what we wanted to see from 2003 was a turning of the page, and that hasn’t happened. So we see secret prisons, people being tortured and ill-treated, being forced to make confessions. And the courts, although routinely detainees claim that they were made to sign false confessions, the courts are really not investigating those and coming to grips with them. And the perpetrators are not being held to account. They’re not being identified. On a number of occasions, the government has reacted by saying it will appoint inquiries after secret prisons have been disclosed and their locations have been found and prisoners in them have been found to be in a very severely ill-treated position. But the outcomes of those investigations have not been made known.

AMY GOODMAN: Deaths in custody?

MALCOLM SMART: Likewise with deaths in custody. We have in our report details of several cases where deaths are alleged to have occurred as a result of torture or ill treatment. Now, the standard practice of any authority in that situation, required by national law and required by international law, is to carry out an independent investigation. What were the causes, what was the circumstances, of the death? Now, this hasn’t happened. And again, we’re calling attention to the need for the government to show the political will to take measures against the torturers.

AMY GOODMAN: Malcolm, there were 10,000 prisoners, in your Amnesty report, transferred from US custody in Iraq to Iraqi custody—US basically transferring prisoners to a system that tortures them, unclear what happened to them in US custody.

MALCOLM SMART: Well, part of the problem with the situation has been that the US forces have been detaining people. And, of course, we know from the days of Abu Ghraib and so on, their record has not been a good one. It’s been improved in recent times, but at least—so there was some control over the prisons exercised by the US.

Since the beginning of 2009, under what’s called the Status of Forces Agreement, the two governments agreed to transfer custody of the prisons and prisoners to the Iraqi forces. Now, many of those detainees held by the US forces had been held without charge or trial for years without any means to challenge their detention. We’ve not made the claim that all those people are innocent of crimes. If they are accused of crimes, they should be held to account in accordance with international fair trial standards. But many detainees say they’ve been arrested for reasons that they don’t know, on the basis of information from secret informants who themselves may have been tortured or brutalized and named names of people. So, there’s not been an independent process. And here, we saw this Status of Forces Agreement at the end of 2008 making the way for the transfer, with no human rights safeguards written into that, although, quite clearly, US forces know that the record of Iraqi forces is a very grim one.

Now, President Bush started this mess when he tossed the Army Field Manual in the trash heap and pried open pandora's box for military and consultant abuses to begin, but now as more and more prisoners have been leaving U.S. custody and movin into Iraqi custody exactly what rules and management is being maintained to protect the rights of the accused in this country remains unclear, and not likely to improve in the near future, just like the lack of consistent electricity or sewage handling through many of the cities.

As of now the U.S. has only about 200 in it's custody.

Here's video an interview with the wife and mother of two Iraqi victims who describes the torture her husband has endured, including suffocation, electro-shock and a threat to sign a confession of his "crimes" or else be forced to rape his 13 year-old own grandson.

This is an ongoing human rights catastrophe of our own making, and again - as we continue to give up power and place responsibility for this in the hands of an Iraqi Government that has been completely unable to function or form some type of governing coalition - the odds of correcting this remain slim.

Why was it that we deposed and executed Saddam again exactly?


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