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Iraq: new report shows thousands interned by multinational forces

Amnesty International has today (6 March) called for an end to the internment of thousands of detainees in Iraq by the Multinational Forces, as it released a new report showing that approximately 14,000 prisoners are being held without charge or trial in breach of international law.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“After the horrors of life under Saddam and then the fresh horror of US prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, it is shocking to discover that the Multinational Forces are detaining thousands of people without charge or trial.

“Not only have there been recent cases of prisoners being tortured in detention, but to hold this huge number of people without basic legal safeguards is a gross dereliction of responsibility on the part of both the US and UK forces.”

Amnesty International’s 48-page report, Beyond Abu Ghraib: Detention and torture in Iraq, condemns the fact that the US and UK forces have justified internments on the basis of secretive and unaccountable procedures that detainees are unable to effectively challenge.

Interned prisoners are not allowed a visit by a lawyer or relatives for the first 60 days of their detention and many prisoners have despaired of ever being released or being given an opportunity to challenge their detention. Those held are regarded as “security detainees” and include over 200 who have been imprisoned for over two years. Nearly four thousand have been held for over a year without charge or trial.

Internees include:

Hillal ‘Abdul Razzaq ‘Ali al-Jedda, a 48-year-old joint UK/Iraq national, who has been held without charge or trial since 10 Oct 2004. His UK-based lawyer is currently pursing a challenge to the lawfulness of his ongoing detention by UK forces before the Court of Appeal in the UK.

Kamal Muhammad ‘Abdullah Al-Jibouri, a 43 year old father of 11 Children's rights, who has been held without charge or trial 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 International’s report expresses alarm at the fact that detention without judicial oversight could expose detainees to the risk of torture. Recent cases of torture by Iraqi forces – especially by individuals connected to the Iraq Interior Ministry – is a particular concern. In one case a 47 yearold imam and preacher was detained and tortured by US forces in 2003 before being released without charge; two years later he was again detained and tortured, this time at the Iraq Interior Ministry before again being released without charge. On both occasions he claims that he was subjected to electro-shock torture.

Kate Allen added:

“There are chilling signs that the lessons of Abu Ghraib have not been learnt. Not only prisoners being held in defiance of international law, but the allegations of torture continue to pour out of Iraq. “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.”

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