Iraq torture ‘worse after Saddam’

The BBC reports today that ‘the UN’s chief anti-torture expert’ Manfred Nowak believes torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein.

Nowak was speaking at a briefing on a new report by the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.

Here’s the UNAMI press release:

Latest UNAMI Human Rights Report on Iraq calls for firm action to tackle old and new human rights violations in Iraq [9/20/2006]


Baghdad- 20 September 2006 — The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expressed concern that “human rights violations, particularly against the right to life and personal integrity, continued to occur at an alarming daily rate in Iraq.” In its latest human rights report for the months of July and August 2006 UNAMI affirms that number of civilians killed violently in the country were an unprecedented 3,590 in July and 3,009 in August. The report points that terrorist attacks, the growth of militias, the emergence of organized crime reflects a lack of centralized and authorized control over the use of force in the country, which results in indiscriminate killings of civilians. In this context, hundreds of bodies have continued to appear throughout the country bearing signs of severe torture and execution style killing. Displacement of population has also continued to grow and affected all Governorates.

The document also raises the alarm at increasing number of “honour crimes” affecting women in a disproportionately manner. “In their fight against generalized violence, central, regional and local authorities should provide greater protection to women from crimes committed within the family, including all types of violence against women and girls on the grounds of honour.” Torture remains a widespread problem in official detention centres while victims extra-judicially executed by death squads, insurgents and militias bear also signs of horrific torture. The report documents terrorist attacks aimed at inflicting death and injury to civilians and other attacks against minorities and religious pilgrims as well as professional categories such as journalists, lawyers and judges. “The inability of State institutions to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and to provide adequate protection to ordinary citizens…risk polarizing Iraqi society to a previously unknown degree and result in a self-reinforcing pattern of sectarian confrontation.”

While progress has been reported in the transfer of detainees held by other authorities to the Ministry of Justice, the report raises concerns regarding an increase in the overall number of detainees, reversing an earlier trend. However, UNAMI states that “a growing perception of impunity for current and past crimes committed risks further eroding the rule of law.” For this reason, UNAMI also called for the full publication of the results of the Government inquiry into allegations of human rights violations committed in Al-Jadiriya detention centre in November 2005, and stated: “The publication of the Al-Jadiriya’s report, the establishment of a formal inquiry into this case and the prosecution of those found to be responsible for allegations of human rights violations, would serve the people and the Government of Iraq and provide a powerful signal that the country is firm in its commitment to establish a new system based on the respect of human rights and the rule of law.”

3 Responses to “Iraq torture ‘worse after Saddam’”

  1. Dan left comment:

    eep! At first I thought this was an overreaction, but then I realised he’s not talking so much about torture by the government or the military (foreign or Iraqi), but about sectarian violence.

  2. Dan left comment:

    Also, I just came across this in the most recent Secretary General’s report on Iraq:

    On 1 June 2006, a joint inspection of a prison site by representatives of the Iraqi Government and the Multinational Force found 1,431 detainees with signs of physical and psychological abuse. A total of 52 arrest warrants have been issued against officials of the Ministry of the Interior, but they have yet to be served.

  3. Dan left comment:

    We Brits have been keeping our end up as well. This is from The Times:

    “Corporal Donald Payne, who has admitted committing a war crime, used
    to ask total strangers who visited the detention facility in Basra
    whether they would like to hear the choir, and then proceeded to kick
    and punch the Iraqis until they moaned and screamed.”