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Amnesty Details Rights Abuses in Iraq 10 Years After Saddam Toppled

  • Selah Hennessy

A U.S. soldier watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad in this photo dated April 9, 2003.

A U.S. soldier watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad in this photo dated April 9, 2003.

Human rights abuses are rife in Iraq ten years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, according to a report published by Amnesty International on Monday.

The Amnesty report looks at human rights violations it says were carried out against detainees and prisoners by Iraqi security forces and U.S.-led coalition forces.

The invasion of Iraq was partly justified on human rights grounds, but since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein little progress has been made on improving the justice system, said Carsten Jurgensen, Amnesty International's Iraq researcher. "One might say, on the one hand side, that many Iraqis enjoy more freedoms than under Saddam Hussein's rule, but a state based on rule of law, respect for basic human rights, has not been established."

Anti-government armed groups, including those linked to al-Qaida, pose a continuing security threat in Iraq and are responsible for widespread abuses, he added.

Amnesty calls on Iraq's authorities to respect international human rights law even as it works to bring those armed groups to justice. It says thousands of Iraqis are detained without trial or are serving prison sentences imposed after unfair trials.

And since the death penalty was reinstated in 2004, Iraq has become one of the world's leading executioners, it says, with 129 prisoners hanged in 2012. Detainees are widely mistreated, said Jurgensen. "People are tortured in order to coerce them to confess. We then have many cases documented where then these confessions are used in trials against suspects and harsh penalties are then imposed, including the death sentence,"

There was no immediate reaction from the Iraqi government and Amnesty says authorities did not respond to requests for comment on early drafts of the report.

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