Iraq operates secret prisons and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them, Amnesty International said in a report released on Feb. 8. An estimated 30,000 men and women remain in custody in Iraq, some in secret facilities operated by the ministries of defense and interior, asserts the report, titled “Broken Bodies, Broken Minds.” “Iraqi security forces use torture and other ill-treatment to extract ‘confessions’ when detainees are held incommunicado, especially in detention facilities—some secret—controlled by the Ministries of Interior and Defence,” the report said.
Amnesty said that Iraq’s Central Criminal Court often convicts defendants on the basis of “confessions” clearly obtained under torture. Accounts of torture collected over the years include “rape and threat of rape, beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks, suspension by the limbs, piercing the body with drills, asphyxiation with plastic bags, removal of toenails with pliers, and breaking of limbs,” Amnesty said.
Children, women and men have all suffered these abuses, it added. “Since 2004, suspects held in Iraqi custody have been systematically tortured and dozens of detainees have died as a result.”
Amnesty noted that the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry in a 2009 report had recorded 509 allegations of torture by Iraqi security forces, but said that number was “a gross underestimate of the scale of the abuse.” Amnesty said that US forces had handed over tens of thousands of prisoners to Iraqi custody between early 2009 and July 2010 without any guarantees that they will be protected. (Middle East Online, Feb. 8)