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Iraq | International

Iraq torture 'worse after Saddam'
by BBC (reposted)
Thursday Sep 21st, 2006 9:07 PM
Torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein, the UN's chief anti-torture expert says.
Manfred Nowak said the situation in Iraq was "out of control", with abuses being committed by security forces, militia groups and anti-US insurgents.

Bodies found in the Baghdad morgue "often bear signs of severe torture", said the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq in a report.

The wounds confirmed reports given by refugees from Iraq, Mr Nowak said.

He told journalists at a briefing in Geneva that he had yet to visit Iraq, but he was able to base his information on autopsies and interviews with Iraqis in neighbouring Jordan.

"What most people tell you is that the situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," the Austrian law professor said.

"The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein," he added.

Brutal methods

The UN report says detainees' bodies often show signs of beating using electrical cables, wounds in heads and genitals, broken legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns.

Bodies found at the Baghdad mortuary "often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances".

Many bodies have missing skin, broken bones, back, hands and legs, missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails, the UN report says.

Victims come from prisons run by US-led multinational forces as well as by the ministries of interior and defence and private militias, the report said.

The most brutal torture methods were employed by private militias, Mr Nowak told journalists.

The report also says the frequency of sectarian bloodletting means bodies are often found which "bear signs indicating that the victims have been brutally tortured before their extra-judicial execution".

It concludes that torture threatens "the very fabric of the country" as victims exact their own revenge and fuel further violence.

Mr Nowak said he would like to visit Iraq in person, but the current situation would not allow him to prepare an accurate report, because it would not be safe to leave Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone where the Iraqi government and US leadership are situated.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5368360.stm
by UK Independent (reposted)
Thursday Sep 21st, 2006 9:08 PM


The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday.

"The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

The report, from an even-handed senior UN official, is in sharp contrast with the hopes of George Bush and Tony Blair, when in 2003 they promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights to the people of Iraq. The brutal tortures committed in the prisons of the regime overthrown in 2003 are being emulated and surpassed in the detention centres of the present US- and British-backed Iraqi government. "Detainees' bodies show signs of beating using electric cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies including in the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns," the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq says in a new report.

The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein's Iraq being labelled "The Republic of Fear", after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.

Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by theInterior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.

The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says.

One US Army major was quoted as saying that Baghdad is now a Hobbesian world where everybody is at war with everybody else and the only protection is self-protection.

Iraq is in a state of primal anarchy. Paradoxically, the final collapse of security this summer is masked from the outside world because the country is too dangerous for journalists to report what is happening. Some 134 journalists, mostly Iraqi, have been killed since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The continuing rise in the number of civilians killed violently in Iraq underlines the failure of the new Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki installed in May after intense US and British pressure. The new government shows no signs of being more effective than the old. "It is just a government of the Green Zone," said an Iraqi official, referring to the fortified zone in central Baghdad housing the Iraqi government as well as the US and British embassies.

In an attempt to regain control of the capital and reduce sectarian violence, government and US troops launched "Operation Together Forward" in mid-July, but it seems to have had only marginal impact for a couple of weeks. The number of civilians killed in July was 3,590 and fell to 3,009 in August but was on the rise again at the end of the month.

The bi-monthly UN report on Iraq is almost the only neutral and objective survey of conditions in the country. The real number of civilians killed in Iraq is probably much higher because, outside Baghdad, deaths are not recorded. The Health Ministry claims, for instance, that in July nobody died violently in al-Anbar province in western Iraq, traditionally the most violent region, but this probably means the violence was so intense that casualty figures could not be collected from the hospitals.

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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1696153.ece