Lawless Arrests, Detentions and Torture in Iraq
By STEPHEN LENDMANAn earlier article discussed Iraq's dire conditions
after seven yearsof occupation, and over a decade of sanctions.
It presents a grim overall picture, besides "Gideon Polya's September 13, 2010 estimated eight million War on Terror" deaths, mostly in Iraq, what he calls "avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality" ones.
Conditions now include:
-- 4.5 million refugees;
-- 2.8 million internal ones (IDPs), one-third in squatter slums;
-- mass impoverishment and depravation;
-- rampant human rights abuses; and
-- settlements without basic services, such as clean water, sanitation, electricity, health care, and education.
Nir Rosen's September 13, 2010 ZNet article adds more.
"Welcome to the new Iraq," he says, "same as the old Iraq," including:
-- "automatic weapons pointed at your head out of military vehicles;"
-- mountains of garbage everywhere;
-- the stench of sewage; and
-- daily violence, chaos, terror, and toxic environment, the same conditions everywhere under direct or proxy US occupations. The definition below explains how Iraqis see their "liberation."
Merriam-Webster defines dystopia as "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives." Other definitions include extreme deprivation, oppression, and terror. These conditions apply to Iraq, a living hell under occupation, not the sanitized Western image when anything at all is reported.
New Amnesty International (AI) Report on Iraq
AI's report explains more, titled "New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful Detentions and Torture in Iraq." It debunks Western mythology with the harsh reality of "unlawful detention(s), enforced disappearance(s) and torture or other ill-treatment of thousands of people since 2003 by the US-led Multinational Force (MNF) in Iraq and the Iraqi authorities."
Saddam's Iraq was paradise by comparison. Most Iraqis would agree, given their lack of freedom, mass impoverishment, and human misery with no hope for change under occupation. It's how America planned it.
Many detainees are held arbitrarily, "without charge or trial, for seven years" or longer. For some, it's despite Iraqi courts ordering them released for lack of evidence, and the 2008 Amnesty Law requiring it after six or 12 months, depending on the circumstances. Yet thousands remain lawlessly imprisoned, many held incommunicado, tortured or abused without access to counsel, and for some, no family visits. Many aren't told where their relatives are held.
Under US imposed rules, "An estimated 30,000 untried detainees are currently being held by the Iraqi authorities, although the exact number is not known as the authorities do not disclose such information." Most are in severely overcrowded facilities under poor conditions. As a result, untreated health problems are common.
America's January 1, 2009 implemented SOFA (status of forces agreement) instituted permanent occupation and much more, including releasing or transferring all detainees to Iraqi custody. However, nothing is said about US or Iraqi human rights obligations, what Washington doesn't now or ever cared about. Former US diplomat George Kennan explained it in his February 1948 "Memo PPS23," saying:
We must "dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming....we (cannot) afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction....We should dispense with the aspiration to 'be liked' or to be regarded as the repository of high-minded altruism....We should (avoid considering) unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. (The) less we are hampered by idealistic slogans (ideas and practices), the better."
The father of Soviet containment, Kennan was a dove. Hard-liners toughened his ideas, implementing them for over six decades, including in present day Iraq (and Afghanistan) where the vast majority of detainees are suspected of unproved terrorism or related offenses.
Iraq's Amnesty Law
Effective on February 27, 2008, its Article 1 says those detained can be pardoned and released by one of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council's established judicial committees. Article 2 lists exceptions, including:
-- prisoners sentenced to death;
-- those convicted of terrorism causing death or permanent disability;
-- anyone convicted of crimes against humanity; and
-- others sentenced for premeditated murder, kidnapping, rape, homosexual acts, adultery, incest, forging official documents, counterfeiting, smuggling artifacts, and offenses under the Iraqi Military Criminal Code.
"In practice, the Amnesty Law appears to have been widely ignored and to have had little effect or impact on prisoner numbers. Some detainees have been released, but thousands" remain imprisoned without charges or trials in violation of international laws, including Fourth Geneva, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
For example, ICCPR's Article 9 states:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention....Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time" or released.
Principle 4 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states:
"Any form of detention or imprisonment and all measures affecting the human rights of a person under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be ordered by, or be subject to the effective control of, a judicial or other authority."
Its Principle 11 says "A person shall not be kept in detention without being given an effective opportunity to be heard promptly by a judicial or other authority."
America and its puppet Iraqi regime systematically violate international law provisions, harming all Iraqis, those in detention most. In some cases, arrests weren't for suspected crimes, but to extort money from detainees and their families. America turns a blind eye, including complete disregard for human rights, civil liberties, and democratic freedoms. In today's Iraq, they don't exist, the occupation in place to assure it.
Yet "The policy of locking people up on mere suspicion (in some cases against regime critics) and denying them justice has contributed to, not alleviated" the sectarian divisions and insecurity. Worse is how they're treated, AI detailing:
"Rape or the threat of rape. Beating with cables and hosepipes. Prolonged suspension by the limbs. Electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body. Breaking of limbs. Removal of toenails with pliers. Asphyxiation using a plastic bag over the head. Piercing the body with drills. Being forced to sit on sharp objects such as broken bottles....just some of the torture methods used against men, women and children," inflicting enough pain to get anyone to confess to stop it.
One detainee told his interrogators he'd sign anything, even a blank sheet of paper to end it. He did and told AI he was innocent, yet under Iraqi "law," his confession is admissible as evidence. "The Iraqi criminal justice system relies heavily on (forced) confessions as evidence of guilt," many then convicted, including hundreds sentenced to death based on torture-extracted admissions, mostly from innocent victims.
Women are as mistreated as men, many reporting being repeatedly raped during interrogations and in detention. For others, men and women, torture results in death. Investigations aren't conducted or whitewashed, death certificates citing heart failure or other natural causes. "In all cases, those responsible for abuses have not been brought to justice. The failure to deal seriously and effectively with torture and other human rights violations....has created a culture of impunity."
At times, prison guards and other security officers were suspended, even arrested, then granted immediate amnesty and released. These practices began under George Bush. Obama continues them seamlessly and shamelessly, what major media accounts never report.
A Final Comment
In 2004, Americans and world audiences recall the horrors of torture, rape, sodomy, murder, and other abuses by US military personnel at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Today under occupation, every US and Iraqi-controlled detention facility is Abu Ghraib or worse, their tortures, extreme abuses and appalling conditions continue.
Thousands of civilians are thus victimized by imperial Washington's lawlessness. Human lives and welfare are thus sacrificed, a shocking indictment of America's true aim and employed means, abroad and at home.
Obama is as culpable as Bush. Both are unindicted war criminals.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.