The removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003 should have been followed by a process of fundamental human rights reform but almost from day one the occupying forces began committing torture and other serious violations against prisoners, as the Abu Ghraib scandal involving US forces and the beating to death of Baha Mousa in the custody of British soldiers in Basra graphically demonstrated,” said Hadj Sahraoui.
In the UK and the USA, despite investigations into individual cases, there has been a failure to investigate systematically the widespread human rights violations committed by forces from those countries, and to hold those responsible to account at all levels. Iraqi victims of US human rights violations have found the route to remedy in the US courts blocked.
The Iraqi authorities have periodically acknowledged torture and other ill-treatment but they have generally sought to explain them away as isolated occurrences or, in a few high profile cases, have announced official inquiries whose outcomes, if any, subsequently were never revealed.
Yet, as Amnesty International’s report shows, torture and other abuse of detainees has been one of the most persistent and widespread features of Iraq’s human rights landscape, and the government shows little inclination either to recognize its extent or take the measures necessary to consign such grave abuses to the past.
Methods of torture reported by detainees include, electric shocks applied to the genitals and other parts of the body, partial suffocation by having a bag placed tightly over the head, beatings while suspended in contorted positions, deprivation of food, water and sleep, and threats of rape or that their female relatives will be detained and raped. Women detainees are particularly vulnerable and the report cites several cases in which women have alleged that they were sexually abused in detention.
“Iraq remains caught in a cycle of torture and impunity that should long ago have been broken,” said Hadj Sahraoui. “It is high time that the Iraqi authorities take the concrete steps needed to entrench a culture of human rights protection, and do so without further prevarication or delay.”