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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Rights Group Says Torture by Iraq Routine

January 25, 2005|From Reuters

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities routinely torture prisoners, a leading human rights group said in a report released today, asserting that the ousting of President Saddam Hussein had not ended systematic abuse.

Prisoners have been beaten with cables and hoses and given electric shocks to their earlobes and genitals, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said. Some have been deprived of food and water and crammed into standing-room-only cells.

"The people of Iraq were promised something better than this after the government of Saddam Hussein fell," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the group's Middle East and North Africa Division.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 90 Iraqi prisoners between July and October, just after the government of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi assumed power, backed by the U.S.-led forces that toppled Hussein.

Seventy-two said they had been tortured or mistreated.

Iraq's justice minister did not challenge the report, saying it would be unrealistic to expect a flawless judicial system in a war-torn country such as Iraq.

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