[JURIST] Iraqi prisoners are routinely subject to torture by Iraqi authorities, according to a Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] report released Tuesday. Iraqi prisoners told HRW investigators that they had been tortured or mistreated by kicking, slapping and punching; prolonged suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back; electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, including the earlobes and genitals; and being kept blindfolded and/or handcuffed continuously for several days. The HRW report, The New Iraq? Torture and Ill-treatment of Detainees in Iraqi Custody [text], also includes allegations that Iraq's intelligence service has violated the rights of members of political parties deemed to pose a threat to state security. HRW has called on the Iraqi government to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment, saying:
Human rights law recognizes that respect for rights and the rule of law cannot be built on fresh abuses. A new Iraqi government requires more than a change of leadership; it requires a change of attitude about basic human dignity. The new authorities must state unequivocally and publicly that the torture and ill-treatment of detainees will not be tolerated. Equally, it must be made clear to law-enforcement personnel, many of whom held the same jobs under the previous government at a time when torture was the norm, that such abuses are no longer acceptable and will not go unpunished. The current Iraqi authorities have failed to deliver this message, as have their international advisers in assisting them to assume that responsibility. In allowing such abuses to go unchecked while continuing to give absolute priority to bringing the security situation under control, it may prove very difficult further down the line to deliver a police force that the Iraqi people can have confidence in, threatening the ultimate aim of lasting security where basic human rights are respected.Read the HRW press release and more from Reuters.