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 - Iraq Torture 'Not Isolated': Amnesty - Iraq

    Iraq Torture 'Not Isolated': Amnesty

    LODNON, May 1 – Amnesty International said torture by U.S. and British occupation forces of Iraqis is not "isolated", citing double standards on human rights in the country and demanding a full independent and public investigation.

    "Our extensive research in Iraq suggests that this is not an isolated incident. It is not enough for the USA to react only once images have hit the television screens," the London-based international human rights watchdog said in a press release on Friday, April 30.

    This came immediately after the American CBS news network aired horrible images of Iraqi detainees tortured by U.S. troops in Abu Ghaib prison.

    Amnesty pressed for "a fully independent, impartial and public investigation into all allegations of torture. Nothing less will suffice."

    "The message must be sent loud and clear that those who abuse human rights will be held accountable."

    It warned that scenes of torture in the prison could keep the grim past memories alive for the Iraqis, with a feeling occupation forces have played the same role of the overthrown regime.

    "The prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein - it should not be allowed to become so again. Iraq has lived under the shadow of torture for far too long," said the release.

    "The Coalition leadership must send a clear signal that torture will not be tolerated under any circumstances and that the Iraqi people can now live free of such brutal and degrading practices."

    Hours after the release, Britain's mass circulation Daily Mirror published gruesome images of British soldiers torturing an Iraqi detainee.

    Frequent, Uninvestigated

    Amnesty said it has received frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by U.S.-led occupation forces during the one-year occupation.

    "Detainees have reported being routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during arrest and detention," said the watchdog.

    "Methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights."

    Amnesty lamented that virtually none of the charges of torture or ill-treatment "has been adequately investigated by the authorities".

    "There is a real crisis of leadership in Iraq - with double standards and double speak on human rights," the group said.

    An Amnesty researcher said in a report released in May after his return from the group's first fact-finding mission in Iraq since 1993 that mistreatment by U.S. and British forces of Iraq POWs included "beatings with fists, with feet, also with weapons".

    "In one case we are talking about electric shocks being used against a man and in others people are being beaten for the whole night and are still being kicked and their teeth broken, I think you would call that torture," he said.

    At the time, the U.S. Central Command put at 3600 the number of Iraqis taken as POWs.

    Geneva Conventions

    In a related development, the European Union joined the wave of criticism over the abuse photos, saying Iraqi detainees should be treated in line with the Geneva conventions, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    "I'm sure I can speak for everyone: we were all appalled," said Irish Premier Bertie Ahern at a press conference in Dublin Saturday marking the bloc enlargement to 25 members.

    He said the provisions of the Geneva conventions - which explicitly forbid the torture of prisoners of war - were "fully applicable" in the case of occupied Iraq.

    "The occupying power has the responsibility to ensure that these provisions are fully applied to those in their custody," said Ahern, whose country holds the rotating E.U. presidency.

    The CBS television aired photos of an Iraqi detainee standing on a box with a hood over his head and wires attached to his hands. CBS said he had been told that if he fell off, he would be electrocuted.

    Other images showed Iraqi prisoners stripped naked, lying on each other and simulating sex acts, as smiling U.S. troops pointed and laughed.

    While the Mirror's images showed a hooded Iraqi detainee being beaten by British soldiers before being thrown from a moving truck and left to die.

    source: & News Agencies - May 01 2004

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