Human rights group Amnesty International is accusing the Iraqi government of operating secret prisons in which detainees are "systematically tortured" to extract confessions that are used to convict them.
In a report issued Tuesday, the London-based group says the Iraqi ministries of interior and defense operate detention facilities - some secret - in which the alleged abuses have occurred. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has denied that his government runs secret prisons.
Amnesty says it has documented various examples of torture in Iraqi prisons in recent years, including rape, the threat of rape, beatings with cables and hosepipes and electric shocks. It says Iraqi prisoners also have been subjected to suspension by the limbs, piercing the body with drills, asphyxiation with plastic bags, removal of toenails with pliers, and breaking of limbs.
Amnesty says Iraqi security forces have committed such abuses against children, women and men, leading to the deaths of dozens of detainees since 2004.
The rights group says about 30,000 men and women remain in custody in Iraq. It says there is "every likelihood that torture and ill-treatment will remain widespread" because Iraq's government is pre-occupied with continuing violence, a ruined infrastructure, widespread poverty and an ailing economy.