US Army seized suspected Iraq insurgents' wives as 'leverage', documents show

[JURIST] US military forces in Iraq have detained wives of suspected insurgents in an attempt to "leverage" their husbands' surrender on at least two occasions, according to documents released by the military to the ACLU under the rights group's ongoing FOIA requests [ACLU materials]. In a May 2004 incident [memorandum, PDF] a mother of three young children was detained "in order to leverage the primary target's surrender" over the objections of a veteran officer and held for two days. In a separate incident, a series of e-mails [PDF text] show a discussion of female detainees held in northern Iraq, with one Army colonel asking "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband - have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?" Iraqi justice officials have denied claims that anti-insurgent units have detained wives to pressure their husbands, saying that the tactic was used under Saddam Hussein's regime and that "we are not Saddam." In January 2004, Human Rights Watch sent a letter [text] to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raising concerns [JURIST report] that the US had violated the Fourth Geneva Convention [text] by arresting relatives of Iraqi fugitives. Collective punishment [Wikipedia backgrounder] - imposing sanctions on other persons for the wrong of another - is prohibited under international human rights law. AP has more.



 

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