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Rights Group: Iraq Holding Over 1,000 Without Charge

  • VOA News

FILE - Iraqi security forces arrest suspected Islamic State militants in Jurf-al-Sakhar, 60 km (40 miles) from the capital Baghdad, Feb. 15, 2014. Many of them have been held in Iraqi detention centers without charge.

FILE - Iraqi security forces arrest suspected Islamic State militants in Jurf-al-Sakhar, 60 km (40 miles) from the capital Baghdad, Feb. 15, 2014. Many of them have been held in Iraqi detention centers without charge.

More than 1,000 Iraqis are being held without charge at makeshift counterterrorism centers throughout the country, an international rights group says.

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty says, "The detainees are squeezed into a space of less than one square meter each, sitting in a crouching position day and night, unable to stretch or lie down to sleep and are rarely allowed outside for fresh air." Shetty toured one of the centers last month.

Amnesty says many of the detainees were taken when Iraqi forces recaptured their towns from Islamic State forces. Many are suspected of collaborating with the militant group.

None of those held have been charged.

Counter-terrorism officers told Amnesty they lack personnel to carry out investigations in a timely manner and the resources to treat detainees humanely.

Shetty said the problem is symptomatic of the deep flaws in Iraq's justice system.

"There is no doubt that Iraq is currently facing unprecedented security challenges, with deadly attacks against civilians being perpetuated by IS on a daily basis," he said. "However, that in no way exonerates the Iraqi authorities from their responsibility to protect the human rights of all Iraqis."

Amnesty International says 683 detainees are being held at a center run by Anbar's counterterrorism agency in Ameriya al-Fallujah. Hundreds more being held in similar conditions at a makeshift holding center in nearby Habbaniya.

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