[JURIST] Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic; BBC profile] created a special committee Thursday to investigate alleged abuse and torture in the country's prisons. Comprised of eight members, the committee reportedly includes representatives [AP report] from human rights and judicial government agencies and security ministries. The panel will report its findings to al-Maliki within two weeks. The decision to create the panel follows the recent charges [JURIST report] against 43 Iraqi police officers for human rights abuses, warrantless arrests, and bribery allegations. The violations were discovered by an investigatory committee formed by Iraq Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani [NYT backgrounder]. Loyalists to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr [GlobalSecurity profile] have pressured the Iraqi government [AP report] over prison conditions that they claim include confessions elicited from torture and politically motivated false accusations. The government is attempting to resolve the controversial police behavior issues before the national parliamentary elections scheduled for January 30, 2010 [UPI report].
Hundreds of Iraqi prisoners have recently gone on a hunger strike [PressTV report] to protest torture-elicited false confessions. In August, officials for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry discussed a plan to prosecute those suspected of torturing inmates [JURIST report] in the country's prisons. In 2006, then-UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said that Iraq's detention practices may violate international law and expressed concern [JURIST report] over the failure of Coalition forces to publish the results of their investigation into the torture allegations. In December 2005, then-interior minister Bayan Jabr fired [JURIST report] Nouri al-Nouri, the country's senior inspector handling human rights issues, in connection with a torture scandal involving dozens of prisoners at a Baghdad prison. In November 2005 US troops found 173 prisoners [JURIST report], many abused, in a secret bunker run by the Interior Ministry. Jabr himself has been accused of running secret prisons and controlling death squads, charges he has downplayed or denied [JURIST reports].