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 - Iraq

    UN envoy: Iraq torture “worse than under Saddam”

    Torture in Iraq is worse now than under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, the United Nations’ special investigator on torture said, according to the BBC.

    Speaking to reporters at a briefing in Geneva, Manfred Nowak said that “the situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand.” 

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

    On Thursday, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq said in a report that civilian deaths in Iraq reached an unprecedented level, with more than 6,599 civilians killed in violent attacks in July and August, making them the deadliest months in the war-torn country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

    The report also said that bodies found in Baghdad morgue “often bear signs of severe torture, including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones, missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails.”

    Victims come from prisons run by U.S.-led occupation forces as well as by the ministries of interior and defense and private militias, the report added.

    The UN report concluded that torture threatens "the very fabric of the country" as victims exact their own revenge.

    "Brutal methods of torture"

    Nowak said the UN findings confirm reports he had received by Iraqi refugees living in Jordan and elsewhere.

    "You have terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias. There are so many people who have abducted, seriously tortured and finally killed," Nowak said.

    "It's not just torture by the government. There are much more brutal methods of torture you'll find by private militias," he added.

    The Australian law professor also said he’d like to visit Iraq by himself, but noted that the current situation in the country wouldn’t allow him to prepare a proper report, because it wouldn’t be safe to leave Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone where the Iraqi government and American officials are based. 

    Nowak is in Geneva to brief the UN Human Rights council; a body that tackles human rights violations, on the situation of the U.S.’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    He is one of five UN human rights investigators who demanded the U.S. to shut down Guantanamo, which they called a “torture camp".

    The calls, made in February, were rejected by Washington.

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