• Sheet of paper Report

New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful Detentions and Torture in Iraq

March 26, 2011

More than seven years after the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the human rights situation remains dire. Despite some security improvements in the last couple of years, violence rages on and scores of Iraqis are being killed every month as a result.

Since 2003 armed groups opposed to the Iraqi government and the presence of US forces in the country have been responsible for gross human rights abuses amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have targeted civilians and attacked indiscriminately, killing thousands of civilians, mostly in suicide bomb attacks in busy public places. They have also kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of others. US and Iraqi forces have also committed grave human rights violations. They have tortured or otherwise ill-treated many prisoners, some of whom have died as a result. They have killed civilians in raids on houses, at checkpoints and during armed clashes. They have destroyed the houses and other property of Iraqis.

The focus of this report is the unlawful detention, enforced disappearance 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. Some have been held arbitrarily, without charge or trial, for seven years. Some remain held even though Iraqi courts or investigative judges have ordered their release for lack of evidence or adequate grounds to imprison them. Thousands are still in prison despite the 2008 Amnesty Law, which provides for the release of uncharged detainees after six or 12 months depending on the case.

Many of these detainees have been tortured or ill-treated in the initial period of their detention when they were held incommunicado. Most have had no access to legal representation and some have not had visits from relatives. In some cases, families spent months trying to find out where their detained relatives were held.

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