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US troops still haven't removed detainees from Iraqi ministries where abuse occurred

Published: Sunday April 23, 2006

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U.S. forces still haven't removed all detainees from Iraqi ministries where abuse was discovered to have occurred, according to a front page story set for Monday's Washington Post, RAW STORY has learned.

While all the starving and evidently tortured prisoners found in the first ministry detention cell last November were removed, an unnamed Iraqi official tells the Post that "the Americans initially said they would suspend their policy of removing prisoners from sites where abuse was found until after Iraq's national elections, which were held Dec. 15, because disclosures of Interior Ministry abuses were politically sensitive."

"The elections came and went, the official said, and the Americans continued leaving detainees at sites that held bruised, burned and limping prisoners," writes Ellen Knickmeyer for the Post.

Excerpts from the article:


Last Nov. 13, U.S. soldiers found 173 incarcerated men, some of them emaciated and showing signs of torture, in a secret bunker in an Interior Ministry compound in central Baghdad. The soldiers immediately transferred the men to a separate detention facility to protect them from further abuse, the U.S. military reported.

Since then, there have been at least six joint U.S.-Iraqi inspections of detention centers, most of them run by Iraq's Shiite Muslim-dominated Interior Ministry. Two sources involved with the inspections, one Iraqi official and one U.S. official, said abuse of prisoners was found at all the sites visited through February. U.S. military authorities confirmed that signs of severe abuse were observed at two of the detention centers.

But U.S. troops have not responded by removing all the detainees, as they did in November. Instead, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, only a handful of the most severely abused detainees at a single site were removed for medical treatment. Prisoners at two other sites were removed to alleviate overcrowding. U.S. and Iraqi authorities left the rest where they were.

This practice of leaving the detainees in place has raised concerns that detainees now face additional threats. It has also prompted fresh questions from the inspectors about whether the United States has honored a pledge by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that U.S. troops would attempt to stop inhumane treatment if they saw it.


The Iraqi official familiar with the joint inspections said detainees who are not moved to other facilities are left vulnerable. `They tell us,If you leave us here, they will kill us,''' said the Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because, he said, he and other Iraqis involved with inspections had received death threats.