U.S. handover puts Iraqi prisoners at risk - Amnesty

Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:40pm GMT

By Maria Golovnina

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States has released several thousand Iraqi prisoners into Iraqi custody despite documented evidence that Iraqi security forces have abused detainees, Amnesty International said on Monday.

The handover of prisoners occurred after a bilateral security agreement came into force last year, ending the U.S. military's right to detain Iraqis, and formally concluded in July with the transfer of the last U.S. detention centre.

"Iraq's security forces have been responsible for systematically violating detainees' rights and they have been permitted to do so with impunity," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Yet, the U.S. authorities, whose own record on detainees' rights has been so poor, have now handed over thousands of people detained by U.S. forces to face this catalogue of illegality, violence and abuse, abdicating any responsibility for their human rights."

An Iraqi official disputed Amnesty's assertions.

The Amnesty report documents thousands of arbitrary detentions and beatings of detainees to obtain forced confessions. The Iraqi judicial system is based on securing convictions through confessions rather than evidence.

It estimated 30,000 people were being held without trial in Iraq and 10,000 of those were transferred from U.S. custody over the past year and a half.

"This report is baseless and inaccurate. We respect the law and observe human rights norms," said Iraq's Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.