ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Facilities run by the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Mosul abused, tortured, and even led to the death of at least nine men while in detention, according to a humanitarian organization’s report released on Sunday.
After speaking with two former detainees and the father of a man who died while in jail, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported allegations that the ministry’s various facilities in and around Mosul were utilizing torture practices and that the government was failing to protect the rights of detainees.
“These latest allegations reflect not only the brutal treatment of Interior Ministry detainees in the Mosul area, but also the failure of law enforcement and the judiciary to provide justice when there is evidence of torture,” Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said. “The government’s failure to investigate torture and death in detention is a green light to security forces that they can inflict torture without any consequences.
According to the report, a detainee held by the Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Office in an east Mosul prison for five months was tortured during interrogations and witnessed nine men die within the prison’s walls, and at least two died from the abuse. Another man in a Qayyara jail claimed he saw men returning from questioning with signs of abuse on their bodies.
One father stated his son had died during police interrogation in a Mosul police station, and despite lodging an official complaint with authorities, has yet to receive a response. Police had claimed the man had died from a heart attack during the interrogation, but the family noted he had bruises and wounds on his body.
The other men who were detained and released did not tell judges they were abused or had witnessed abuse, for fear of reprisals from their guards. Some of the torture practices that were described to the human rights group are similar to those captured last year, during the battle to retake Mosul, by photojournalist Ali Arkady, who has since fled Iraq.
An earlier report by HRW also stated Iraqi judges frequently disregard allegations of torture by security forces, which is prohibited by Iraq’s constitution, and warned that courts routinely convict suspects based on confessions that are credibly claimed to be a result of such abuse.
“Torture is rampant in Iraq’s justice system, yet judges lack instructions for responding to torture allegations,” Fakih argued in July.
Concern around the use of torture by Iraqi security forces has increased considerably since the government’s mass arrests of thousands of Islamic State (IS) suspects and pressure on Baghdad to “exact justice” against alleged jihadists. Human rights organizations, however, have warned that efforts by Iraqi authorities to escalate the implementation of death sentences could lead to the execution of innocent people.