Ill-treatment in Iraqi prisons raises international concerns: HRW

“The government should take detainees’ rights seriously and start to protect them by investigating abuses.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Mistreatment in Iraqi prisons continues to raise concerns after reports of a man’s hand being amputated due to torture after he was held in police custody in Baghdad in early 2019, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Wednesday.

According to the rights organization, the detainee’s brother and wife had issued separate complaints during the victim’s trial, but both were ignored.

Lama Fakih, the deputy Middle East director at HRW, said the recent report of a detainee losing his arm due to torture while in custody is another “sign that something is very wrong in Iraqi detention facilities.”

“The government should take detainees’ rights seriously and start to protect them by investigating abuses,” Fakih added.

The detainee was arrested in late March 2018, and later told his brother during a visit that authorities “hung him from his hands for three days” in an attempt to extract a confession, an HRW report said.

The man did not receive any medical treatment until July 2018. Medical reports of the examination indicated bruising and swelling to his left hand and arm up to his shoulder.

After 10 months of doctors performing unsuccessful surgeries on his arm, officers took the victim to Ghazi al-Hariri Hospital in Baghdad in April 2019 “where doctors amputated his arm and then returned him to police custody,” a man told HRW on condition of anonymity. 

Human rights groups have criticized inconsistencies in the judicial process in Iraq and the prominence of flawed trials.

Judges in Iraq often dismiss torture allegations without any investigation to the claims. HRW said it had documented several claims by Iraqis of torture, with at least two of them leading to the death of the detainees.   

Iraqi courts have put on trial hundreds of foreigners, sentencing many to life in prison and others to death. Last month, Baghdad handed death sentences to the 11 French nationals for their role with the Islamic State.

After some of the French nationals claimed in court that Iraqi officials had tortured them, HRW called on nations not to rely on Iraq, a country notorious for using torture to extract confessions to try their citizens.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany