Rights group accuses Iraq of running secret prison

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Tuesday accused military officials [HRW report] overseen by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of running a secret jail in Iraq that is not subject to inspection by international groups and torturing suspects [JURIST news archive] in another detention center. The report claims that the Iraqi Army's 56th Brigade controls the secret prison located in Camp Justice, and that Iraqi authorities ordered 280 detainees transferred there from Camp Honor in November 2010 days before international inspectors were to visit Camp Honor. The HRW report found that the 56th Brigade tortured suspects at Camp Honor, echoing a Los Angeles Times report [text] from last week. The Times found that the Camp Honor jail is run by the 56th Brigade rather than the Ministry of Justice, that prisoners face inhumane conditions, are held indefinitely and are often denied access to family members and lawyers. According to the HRW report, personnel in the overcrowded Camp Honor extracted confessions from suspected terrorists by beating them, suffocating them and making threats against their families. Deputy Justice Minister Buso Ibrahim denied the Times report [AFP report] last week, claiming that inmates can communicate with lawyers and family members and that they do not face torture or inhumane conditions. Ibrahim claimed the International Committee of the Red Cross [advocacy website] had visited Camp Honor, but the ICRC denied this, saying that it canceled the planned visit because the Iraqi government wanted to restrict its ability to talk to prisoners. Deputy Middle East director at HRW Joe Stark commented, "Revelations of secret jails in the heart of Baghdad completely undermine the Iraqi government's promises to respect the rule of law. The government needs to close these places or move them under control of the justice system, improve conditions for detainees, and make sure that anyone responsible for torture is punished."

In October, UN High Commissioner for Civil Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for the US and Iraq to investigate and prosecute [JURIST report] those responsible for alleged abuses that came to light after WikiLeaks [website] released documents showing extensive human rights abuses in Iraq and accusing US forces of turning prisoners over to Iraqi forces despite knowing those prisoners were likely to face torture. Days earlier, HRW called for the Iraqi and US governments to launch an investigation [JURIST report] and prosecute those responsible for alleged detainee abuse. The group said the WikiLeaks reports detail the US military's failure to prevent abuses, including beatings, burnings and lashings, of Iraqi detainees at the hands of their captors. In September, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] accused the Iraqi government [JURIST report] of illegally detaining over 30,000 people and torturing many of them. Last April, HRW accused Iraqi authorities of torturing detainees [JURIST report] in another secret prison.

 

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