Iraq wants to put torturers on trial

Iraq’s human rights ministry says wants torturers not to be included on amnesty lists.

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s human rights ministry says it wants to put on trial torturers who benefit from complete immunity despite proven cases of abuse in Iraqi prisons.”We call on the government and judicial authorities to ensure the protection of prisoners, to punish torturers and not to include them on amnesty lists,” said Saad Sultan, head of the ministry’s prisons supervision service.

Iraq, which on Sunday announced it has ratified the UN convention against torture, has no law against the practice.

“It’s true that there is no specific law but they (torturers) could be charged for voluntary blows and injuries,” the senior official said late Monday.

He said 121 “proven cases” of detainees — including three women — being tortured had been unearthed in 2007. Two-thirds of them were in interior ministry facilities and the rest in centres run by the defence ministry.

“The culprits are being investigated but this type of case takes time,” said Sultan, without reporting any arrests.

“We don’t have statistics for previous years but there were definitely hundreds of cases of torture in 2004 and 2005, before the number started to decline in 2006,” he said.

Sultan’s supervision team was set up in 2006 with a team of 82 investigators. Funded by the European Union, they were trained in Germany and by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It started work in earnest in 2007.