Thursday, Oct 30, 2008
The United States should not transfer prisoners from US to Iraqi custody, under the pending US-Iraqi security agreement, if they face the risk of torture, a leading human rights group said.
The US military currently holds some 17,000 detainees, most of them Iraqis, and cites UN Security Council resolutions that expire at the end of the year as the basis for holding them, said Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which calls for US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by 2009 and from the whole country by 2011, also provides for the transfer of detainees to Iraqi custody.
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But after the United States “made itself synonymous with abuse of detainees in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib (prison) scandal, the least it can do now is assure that a security agreement does not pave the way for further abuse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The rights group, which documented torture and ill-treatment of detainees by Iraqi police and security forces, called on the the US government to ensure detainees are not in danger of further abuse.
The SOFA should establish “a mechanism that would provide each detainee with a genuine opportunity to contest a transfer to Iraqi custody, and by verifying the conditions of Iraqi detention facilities to which they could be transferred, through inspections whose results are made public,” the group said.