Saddam Is Gone, But Tyranny Remains

Amnesty International recently reported that it believes 30,000 people are currently held in Iraqi jails, and the same kinds of abuses that went on under Saddam and American forces are still going on.  From Al Jazeera:

Amnesty’s 59-page report, titled “New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq,” highlights the case of several men who were subjected to torture or who died in prison.

Among them was Riad Mohammed Saleh al-Oqaibi, arrested in September 2009 and held in a detention facility in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone before being transferred to a secret detention facility elsewhere in the capital.

“During interrogation, he is said to have been beaten so hard on the chest that his ribs were broken and his liver damaged,” the report noted. “He died on 12 or 13 February as a result of internal bleeding.”

According to the rights group, methods of torture used against detainees include beatings with cables and hose-pipes, breaking of limbs, piercing of the body with drills and psychological torture in the form of threats with rape.

In addition to the central Iraqi government, the report blamed security forces in the autonomous region of Kurdistan of also being at fault, noting one case in which a detainee had been held for more than 10 years without charge or trial. That detainee was allegedly tortured by Kurdish security police.

Iraq’s fractured penal system means the ministries of justice, interior and defence all run their own prison networks, and reports of torture and mistreatment are common, the report concluded.

Human Rights Watch said in April that Iraqi men were raped, electrocuted and beaten in a “secret prison” in Baghdad, while MPs called for an independent enquiry into prison abuse in a parliamentary debate in June 2009.

Ramze Shihab Ahmed, 68, is an Iraqi refugee in the UK. He was arrested while on a visit to Iraq in 2009, and no-one knew where he was being held or what, if anything, he had been charged with. He left to Iraq in the first place, to find out the faith of his son Omar, after receiving information he was arrested by Iraqi police.

His wife Rabiha, 63, told Al Jazeera: “Ramze was very worried about Omar. We didn’t know why he had been arrested, and he said he must go to Iraq to help him,” Rabiha says. “He didn’t think he would be in any danger at all.”

Rabiha claims her husband confessed to terrorism charges under torture.

“They beat him. They put a plastic bag on his head until he lost consciousness, and then they woke him with electric shocks. They told him that if he didn’t confess, they would make his son rape him. They put a wooden stick into his anus,” she told Al Jazeera. “They have abused him in every way.”

The Iraqi government admits 4500 people have been released due to lack of evidence since April.  No chance al-Oqaibi or Ahmed or the other victims were innocent, right?  Read more here.

Amnesty International has said that tens of thousands of detainees are being held without trial in Iraqi prisons. In a new report, Amnesty said the prisoners face violent and psychological abuse, as well as other forms of mistreatment.

Amnesty said on Monday it believes that around 30,000 people are held in Iraqi jails, noting the case of several who died in custody, while cataloguing physical and psychological abuses against many others.

Last month’s handover of prisoners following the so-called ‘end of US combat operations’ have alarmed the The London-based human rights watchdog.

“Iraq’s security forces have been responsible for systematically violating detainees’ rights and they have been permitted to do so with impunity,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Yet, the US authorities, whose own record on detainees’ rights has been so poor, have now handed over thousands of people detained by US forces to face this catalogue of illegality, violence and abuse, abdicating any responsibility for their human rights,” he added.

Among other things, the Amnesty report documents thousands of arbitrary detentions and beatings of detainees to obtain forced confessions.

“The Iraqi authorities must take the firm and decisive action now… to show that they have the political will to uphold the human rights of all Iraqis, in accordance with their international  obligations and to stop the torture and other gross abuses of  detainees’ rights,” the report said.

Ali al-Musawi, a media advisor to Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi outgoing PM has denied the claims.