The Iraqi parliament's Security and Defense Committee issued a report prepared by the prosecutor general confirming instances of torture and rape perpetrated against female prisoners. Calls were heard in the northern province of Ninevah for the prosecution of an officer accused of sexually assaulting a minor, while in the southern province of Basrah protests were held following the death of a prisoner under torture.
During a news conference yesterday, a member of the Security and Defense Committee, MP Hamid al-Mutlaq, said that "the prosecutor general has submitted today a report to the chairman of the Iraqi judiciary, Medhat al-Mahmoud, that confirms the occurrence of torture and violations and rape of women detained in Iraqi prisons. The report is based on confidential testimonies of female prisoners in Iraqi jails." He further stated that "the report was based upon the recorded testimony of female prisoners and it confirms what has been recently stated by some parliamentary committees and human rights organizations: that violations, torture and rape of female prisoners in Iraqi prisons have indeed occurred."
Mutlaq called for the government and the judiciary to put an end to these violations and protect the work done by confidential informants in accordance with Article IV of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The release of this report coincided with the announcement by the governor of Ninevah, Atheel al-Nujaifi, that an officer in the second division of the Iraqi army had raped a minor on the outskirts of Mosul the day before yesterday.
Nujaifi said in his statement yesterday that "a horrific event took place yesterday on the outskirts of Mosul city. A girl under the age of 18 was raped and the accused perpetrator is a first lieutenant in the Iraqi army."
The provincial council in Ninevah (some 400 km north of Baghdad) suspended its scheduled session in protest. Councilman Sheikh Salim Arab told Al-Hayat yesterday that "we cancelled our regular parliamentary session today in protest against the officer's rape of a young girl. Afterward the governor attended and met the council president and explained to him the details of the case. He emphasized that the officer in charge of operations in Ninevah had contacted the ministry of defense and obtained approval from the ministry's legal department to arrest him, while [noting that] the officer was currently being held by his unit and will be turned over for prosecution."
He added further that "given the prosecutorial immunity awarded to officers he is being held at the directive of the minister of defense."
This is the second instance of rape reported since last August, when a soldier assigned to the Al-Zubayr district raped a 14-year old girl and then killed her.
Arab stated that "many of the defendants are not brought to justice due to poor security conditions, or particular political circumstances. And sometimes, you have information without possessing evidence or conclusive proof that can be presented to the judge."
Moreover, local officials and representatives announced that a detainee of the criminal division in Basrah died under torture.
MP Jawad al-Bazuni said to Al-Hayat that "provincial representatives visited the criminal division to investigate the matter after complaints from the detainee's family and we found that his cause of death was severe beating and torture." He added further that "according to the facts that have reached us so far, this individual was innocent and had been falsely arrested. Meanwhile the perpetrator remains at large." He went on to say that "we must review [the behavior of] those who handle the accused or detainees. For this goes to very heart of the work being done by civil organizations attempting to institute international human rights norms."
The chairman of the human rights committee in the provincial council, Hussein Ali, told Al-Hayat that "this issue is not new. Most officers charged with conducting interrogations in the security services deal with detainees in an illegal manner; the latter are subjected to regular beatings." He continued, "Inhuman treatment of detainees does not only manifest itself in beatings, but in holding in areas unfit for housing prisoners and detainees. In some cells, 70 prisoners are being held in antiquated facilities bereft of public utilities."
The director of the Human Rights Office in southern Iraq, Mahdi al-Tamimi, said that "according to the ministry's information on the deceased, he passed away within the prison, but the cause of death is not yet clear." He added that "the ministry has sent the corpse to the forensic medical department in order to ascertain the cause of death. After that is done, the Human Rights Office will be able to issue an appropriate response."
The criminal court issued a verdict of execution yesterday for two gunmen belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq, an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda, and who received support from Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who himself was sentenced to death in absentia.
The court issued a statement yesterday that it had "sentenced two gunmen to death who belonged to the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq, an affiliate of al-Qaeda" and noted that both "had received support from Tariq al-Hashemi, the vice president of the republic."
The statement added further that "the court sentenced one officer holding the rank of corporal to death. He was one of the vice president's close associates and was sentenced for his cooperation in placing a sticky bomb on the car of an officer in the interior ministry."