Claims: UK interrogators ‘routinely’ used sexual abuse against Iraqi prisoners

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, January 2, 2010 14:09 EDT
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A secretive British commando unit is facing a slate of new allegations that they “routinely” used sexual abuse against Iraqi prisoners, according to published reports.

Five individual prisoners singled out one female guard in particular, known to them as “Katy,” according to British publication The Times. The paper said that prisoners alleged the sexual abuse was used “routinely.”

The allegations, which range from the use of pornography, masturbation, sexual humiliation and even male rape, bring the total number of complaints against the British army’s Joint Forward Intelligence Team (JFIT) to 40.

“Interrogators are also accused of coercive practices outlawed in Britain, including threats and actual violence, the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, exposure to heat and cold, hooding and threats to rape and murder detainees’ families,” the paper noted.

The allegations came to light after the Public Interest Lawyers of Birmingham, which are representing the Iraqis, called for an investigation into the claims.

Human rights attorney Phil Shiner, speaking with British media, said that the JFIT group was outside of the traditional military command structure and answered only to the Defense Intelligence and Security Center.

He said that allowed interrogators to “do what they wanted” with prisoners at the Shaibah Logistics Base outside of Basra, Iraq, between 2004 and 2007.

“A lot of them complained that they were told if they didn’t confess their wives or mothers would be brought into the base and raped,” Shiner said, according to the BBC. “That kind of behavior is coercion. It’s banned and the government needs to investigate whether that was in fact happening and make sure it never happens again.”

The British defense ministry said it plans to investigate all the claims, UPI reported.

“Armed Forces minister Bill Rammell said: ‘We must never forget that over 120,000 British troops have served in Iraq and the vast, vast majority have conducted themselves to the highest standards of behavior, displaying integrity and selfless commitment,’” Daily Mail noted. “Only a tiny number have ever fallen short of our high standards, but even a tiny number is unacceptable.”

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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