Iraqi Official Alleges That Torture Is Still Rife in Nation's Prisons

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An Iraqi politician denounced the torture that he said is still rife in the country's prisons. Ayad al-Samarri said many of the young men were being detained illegally and warned the situation could precipitate a backlash against security forces.

The secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party Ayad al-Samarri expressed concern about torture practices in Iraqi prisons, which are resulting in the death of many detainees.

Sammari told Azzaman that the torture of detainees in Iraqi prisons has become a daily practice. He added that some “wanted” men were detained by security forces only to be handed over dead to their families, after hours of detention, without giving further information about what happened to them being provided.

The secretary-general also criticized the position of Baghdad’s parliament, saying: The "parliament has not summoned any security official to investigate this torture and abuse taking place in prisons. Although there were many complaints about this matter, the Ministry of Human Rights has yet [to] get involved.”

Furthermore, Sammari stressed that the arrests that have been carried out were done on a political basis, adding that the prisoners’ cases have not been addressed in accordance with the legal framework. He said that the conduct of the security services is even worse now than it was three years ago. Sammari also stressed that the use of torture to extract confession is a violation of the Iraqi constitution, which prohibits such practices. He urged parliament to hold security officials responsible for torturing detainees.

When asked about the fact that some detainees have been handed over to their families dead, only hours after their arrest, Sammari said those responsible for such violations should be charged with murder. He added that other detainees have also perished in prison due to the deterioration of conditions and the lack of private health provision there.

Moreover, some of detainees were suffering from serious diseases and were being held in prison for long periods of time without being treated or even charged with an offense, he said.

Sammari warned that these arrests will soon spark the anger of detainees’ families, especially given the shock that some parents have experienced after learning of their sons’ deaths, only a few hours after being arrested. This situation will lead to an act of revenge perpetrated by families against security officers, which we have been long warning against, he added.

Sammari said that after terrorist hotbeds in the country were destroyed, the state security services have been arresting those who helped eliminate terrorism in certain areas. This is due to the state’s over-reliance upon certain unreliable members. Thus, the government ought to reconsider its practices against citizens, he argued.

According to Sammari, a sound relationship between the security services and citizens serves as the most important pillar of stability in any country. Should this relationship falter, citizens will resort to terrorism.

He said that this is a big mistake and that the relationship between the security services and citizens must be improved, he said. The last few days have seen the death of many detainees due to torture inside Iraqi prisons.

Kurdish reconciliation

On a separate note, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with the leader of the Kurdish opposition Movement for Change, Nawshirawan Mustafa, in the city of Sulaimaniyah yesterday [Sept. 24]. The meeting came after four years of estrangement, a source in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said.

According to the source, Talabani received Mustafa, leader of the Kurdish Movement for Change, in his residency in Sulaimaniyah. The source added that the meeting comes within the framework of Talabani’s efforts to meet with different parties across the Iraqi political spectrum in order to discuss the general status quo and come up with ways to solve the current crisis.

The meeting with the Kurdish leader holds certain significance, as Mustafa is the leader of the largest Kurdish opposition faction. The Movement for Change holds 25 seats out of 111 in the Kurdish Parliament, and 8 seats in the Iraqi Parliament, since its split from the PUK in 2009.

Mustafa, who was once Talabani’s most prominent assistant, became his main opponent. The relationship between the two officials has been strained and seen much tension and bickering in previous years.

Elsewhere, four children were killed and two wounded yesterday in a car bomb blast. The car was parked near their school and had targeted a military patrol in Hit, west of Baghdad.

According to Colonel Iyada al-Namrawi, deputy police chief in Hit, four children were killed and two wounded when the bomb exploded near their school. The police officer added that the car blew up when an anti-terrorism forces patrol passed by it. The children were on their way to school.

Dr. Sobhi Abdul Alouani confirmed their death, as he was helping transport the bodies and wounded to the hospital.

Moreover, three Iraqi soldiers were wounded in an armed attack on a security checkpoint in the north of the city of Hillah, the capital of Babylon Province.

According to an Iraqi security source, on Monday, Sept. 24, unidentified gunmen, travelling in a civilian car, opened fire with automatic weapons on an Iraqi army checkpoint in the lakes area in north of Hillah. The incident left three soldiers injured.

The source added that security forces closed the accident location immediately, and started searching for the attackers, who had gone into hiding, while the wounded were transported to hospital.

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Found in: torture, jalal talabani, iyad al-samarrai
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