portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

human & civil rights | imperialism & war | prisons & prisoners

amnesty international report

torture, killing and worse in iraq ... not to justify the current war ...

aparently sanctions worked to enable this sick regime ...
AI INDEX: MDE 14/008/2001
15 August 2001
Systematic torture of political prisoners


Torture is used systematically against political detainees in
Iraqi prisons and detention centres. The scale and severity of
torture in Iraq can only result from the acceptance of its use at
the highest level. There are no attempts to curtail or prevent
such violations or punish those responsible. This total disregard
for a basic human right, the right not to be tortured or ill-
treated, grossly violates international human rights law which
prohibits torture in all circumstances. The International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iraq
ratified in 1971, states that ''No one shall be subjected to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment''(Article 7).

Amnesty International has over the years received numerous
reports of torture and interviewed hundreds of torture victims.
The organization has also published many reports documenting a
wide range of human rights violations in the country, including
torture and ill-treatment. Victims of torture in Iraq have been
subjected to a wide range of forms of torture. The bodies of many
of those executed had evident signs of torture, including the
gouging out of the eyes, marks of severe beatings and electric
shocks to various parts of the body, when returned to their
families. Some detainees died as a result of torture. Many
torture victims now live with permanent physical or psychological

Torture is used both to extract information or confessions from
detainees and as a punishment. Political detainees are tortured
immediately following arrest and their torture generally takes
place in the headquarters of the General Security Directorate in
Baghdad or in its branches in Baghdad and in the governorates.
Torture also takes place in the headquarters of the General
Intelligence (al-Mukhabarat al-'Amma) in al-Hakimiya in Baghdad,
its branches elsewhere, as well as in police stations and
detention centres such as al-Radhwaniya. Detainees in these
places are held incommunicado for months or even years without
access to any lawyers or family visits.

Victims of torture have included suspected government opponents
who range from army, security and intelligence officers suspected
of having contacts with the Iraqi opposition abroad or accused of
plotting against the government, to followers of leading Shi'a
Muslim religious personalities. Torture has also been used
against women suspected of having links with Shi'a Islamist
groups in the country or simply because of family links. In many
cases relatives of those active in the Iraqi opposition abroad
have been tortured or ill-treated as a way of putting pressure on
those opposition leaders to cease their activities.

Iraq's legislation prohibits the use of torture. Article 22(a) of
Iraq's Interim Constitution states that ''the dignity of the
person is safeguarded. It is inadmissible to cause any physical
or psychological harm''. Article 127 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure states that ''it is not permissible to use any illegal
means to influence the accused to secure his statement.
Mistreatment, threatening to harm, inducement, threats, menace,
psychological influence, and the use of narcotics, intoxicants
and drugs are all considered illegal means.'' In fact the Iraqi
Penal Code criminalizes the use of torture by any public servant.
Article 333 states that ''any employee or public servant who
tortures, or orders the torture of an accused, witness, or expert
in order to compel that person to confess to committing a crime,
to give a statement or information, to hide certain matters, or
to give a specific opinion will be punished by imprisonment or
detention. The use of force or threats is considered to be
torture''. Amnesty International is not aware of any instances
where officials suspected of torture of detainees have been
brought to justice.

In the mid-1990s Iraq introduced judicial punishments such as
amputation of hand and foot, branding of forehead and cutting off
of the ears, and many people have been left with permanently
mutilated bodies as a result of such punishments. Such
punishments have been described as cruel, inhuman and degrading
by international human rights bodies. The Iraqi Government
justified the introduction of these punishments by the increase
in the crime rate which it attributed to the impact of economic
sanctions imposed on the country since 1990.

Iraq continues to be subjected to comprehensive trading sanctions
imposed by UN Security Council resolutions since 1990 in the
aftermath of its occupation of Kuwait. The sanctions have,
according to many international experts, journalists, non-
governmental organizations and UN agencies, crippled Iraq's
economic infrastructure and have resulted in the breakdown of the
socio-cultural fabric of the society, acute poverty,
malnutrition, wide-spread corruption and crime, and the reported
deaths of over half a million children under the age of five.(1)
It is, however, the responsibility of the Iraqi Government to
uphold the rule of law and respect of human rights.

The international community has been concerned about the human
rights situation in Iraq for many years and therefore decided in
1991 to appoint a Special Rapporteur in order to report regularly
to the UN Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human
rights in Iraq.


Torture victims in Iraq have been blindfolded, stripped of their
clothes and suspended from their wrists for long hours. Electric
shocks have been used on various parts of their bodies, including
the genitals, ears, the tongue and fingers. Victims have
described to Amnesty International how they have been beaten with
canes, whips, hosepipe or metal rods and how they have been
suspended for hours from either a rotating fan in the ceiling or
from a horizontal pole often in contorted positions as electric
shocks were applied repeatedly on their bodies. Some victims had
been forced to watch others, including their own relatives or
family members, being tortured in front of them.

Other methods of physical torture described by former victims
include the use of Falaqa (beating on the soles of the feet),
extinguishing of cigarettes on various parts of the body,
extraction of finger nails and toenails and piercing of the hands
with an electric drill. Some have been sexually abused and others
have had objects, including broken bottles, forced into their
anus. In addition to physical torture, detainees have been
threatened with rape and subjected to mock execution. They have
been placed in cells where they could hear the screams of others
being tortured and have been deprived of sleep. Some have stayed
in solitary confinement for long periods of time. Detainees have
also been threatened with bringing in a female relative,
especially the wife or the mother, and raping her in front of the
detainee. Some of these threats have been carried out.


3.1 Followers of Shi'a Clerics

Over the years many victims of torture have been Shi'a Muslims
from Baghdad or from southern Iraq. They were arrested and
tortured because they were suspected of anti-government
activities. Many of them were students at al-Hawza al-'Ilmiya in
al-Najaf in the south, which is considered to be one of the most
prestigious theological teaching institutions in Shi'a Islam.
Mass arrests and torture often took place during the periods of
unrest which southern Iraq has witnessed intermittently over the
last few years. The murder in al-Najaf of Ayatollah Mohammad
Sadeq al-Sadr, a prominent leading Shi'a cleric, and his two sons
on 19 February 1999(2) sparked off riots in predominantly Shi'a
districts in Baghdad, especially in Saddam City (also known as
al-Thawra City), and in southern towns of al-Hilla, Karbala', al
-Nassiriya and al-Najaf. Protests in Saddam City resulted in the
killings of dozens of protesters by the security forces and the
arrest of hundreds of people. The riots lasted for three days and
according to press reports at least 100 people were killed in
Baghdad alone.(3)

A month later riots erupted in Basra for three days between 17
and 20 March 1999 during which the local headquarters of the
ruling Ba'ath Party was attacked and several government officials
were killed by armed Iraqi Shi'a Islamists, some of whom were
reportedly sent by Iraqi Shi'a opposition groups based in Iran.
As soon as government forces regained control of Basra on 20
March the repression started with dozens of people executed
following torture and hundreds of others were arrested and

On 16 April 1999 violent clashes were reported between protesters
and security forces when the latter attempted to prevent Shi'a
Muslims from taking part in Friday prayers at the al-Hikma Mosque
in Saddam City in Baghdad. These clashes reportedly left scores
of protesters dead. An eye witness told Amnesty International
that ''when people were prevented from prayers they started
shouting slogans against the authorities. Some protesters were
armed and started shooting at the security forces but the latter
were using tanks against the population and many people,
including children, were killed. Initially the security forces
did not remove the dead bodies. They waited for families and
relatives to come and collect them so that they could arrest
them. However, the families were too frightened to do so and in
the end the security forces had to collect the bodies to clean
the streets.'' As a retaliation, armed Islamist activists killed
the director of Abu Ghraib Prison, Major Hassan al-'Amiri, and
several other security officers the following day in an attack on
a house close to the mosque, which was used as a temporary
headquarters for the security forces.

The Iraqi government denied all reports of unrest which followed
the assassination of Ayatollah al-Sadr. However in mid-May 1999 a
government official admitted for the first time that disturbances
had taken place in Basra claiming that ''some agents who came
from behind the border, from Iran, carried out sabotage acts in
the city of Basra on March 17 in order to harm Iraq and its

Among those arrested in Basra were several university lecturers.
One person A (name withheld) told Amnesty International that he
was arrested on 7 June 1999 at night from his home in Basra. He
was taken to the General Intelligence prison in Basra and was
tortured during interrogation. Methods of torture included
extinguishing cigarettes on his feet and beating. He was also
made to lie naked on the floor of the prison's concrete courtyard
which was unshaded from the heat of the sun. He was then dragged
by his arms from one side of the courtyard to another. This left
his back, buttocks and thighs bleeding. A was taken to a special
courtroom in Basra. There was a judge and several security men in
the court. The judge told him that he was guilty of six charges,
including criticising the government in his lectures and
collecting money to help families of those executed in Basra. A
stated that he was innocent. He was then hit by a security
officer on the back of his head with a weapon which left his head
bleeding. He was taken back to the prison. He was then released
on 19 July 1999 after his family had bribed local miliary and
security officials. A few other lecturers remain detained until
now after they had been tortured. They include Khaled al-'Adeli
and 'Abd al-Hussain Hanin, lecturers in Chemistry and Computing,
respectively, at Basra University. They are reported to be still
detained at the General Intelligence prison in Basra.

During and following these events hundreds of followers of
Ayatollah al-Sadr were arrested and were subjected to torture.
Dozens were later summarily tried and executed. Among them were
Al-Shaikh Salim Jassem Sadkhan al-'Abboudi and al-Shaikh 'Ala'
Hussain al-Shuwaili who were reportedly arrested in around June
1999 and were sentenced to death in May 2000 and executed a month
later. Both were from Saddam City and their family homes were
demolished by the security forces. Others executed during the
same period after they had been tortured included al-Sayyid Sa'ad
Mohammad 'Ali al-Nouri, Qassim Ghazi al-Shuwaili and al-Sayyid
'Amr al-Mussawi. Al-Shaikh Nazzar Kadhim al-Bahadli, a 29-year-
old theology student from Saddam City, was arrested in June 1999
and was tortured for long periods in the building of Saddam
Security Directorate. His wife, father and mother were reportedly
brought to the building in August 1999 and were tortured in front
of him to force him to confess to being one of those responsible
for the disturbances in Saddam City. He was said to have
confessed in order to spare his parents and his wife any further
torture. They were released following his confession but he was
sentenced to death later and was executed at the beginning of

Al-Shaikh Yahya Muhsin Ja'far al-Zeini, from Saddam City, is a
29-year-old former theology student in al-Hawza al-'Ilmiya in al
-Najaf. On 2 July 1999 he was arrested in his parents' house
following his arrival from al-Najaf. His father and two brothers
had been detained as substitute prisoners until his arrest.
Security men blindfolded him and took him to the building of
Saddam Security Directorate. Once there, he was taken to a room
and his blindfold was removed. He told Amnesty International:

'' ... I saw a friend of mine, al-Shaikh Nasser Taresh al-Sa'idi,
naked. He was handcuffed and a piece of wood was placed between
his elbows and his knees. The two ends of the wood were placed on
two high chairs and al-Shaikh Nasser was being suspended like a
chicken. This method of torture is known as al-Khaygania (a
reference to a former security director known as al-Khaygani). An
electric wire was attached to al-Shaikh Nasser's penis and
another one attached to one of his toes. He was asked if he could
identify me and he said ''this is al-Shaikh Yahya''. They took me
to another room and then after about 10 minutes they stripped me
of my clothes and a security officer said ''the person you saw
has confessed against you''. He said to me ''You followers of [
Ayatollah] al-Sadr have carried out acts harmful to the security
of the country and have been distributing anti-government
statements coming from abroad. He asked if I have any contact
with an Iraqi religious scholar based in Iran who has been
signing these statements. I said ''I do not have any contacts
with him''... I was then left suspended in the same manner as al
-Shaikh al-Sa'idi. My face was looking upward. They attached an
electric wire on my penis and the other end of the wire is
attached to an electric motor. One security man was hitting my
feet with a cable. Electric shocks were applied every few minutes
and were increased. I must have been suspended for more than an
hour. I lost consciousness. They took me to another room and made
me walk even though my feet were swollen from beating.... They
repeated this method a few times''.

Al-Shaikh Yahya was regularly subjected to electric shocks
followed by beating on the feet. For two months he had to sleep
on the floor with his hands tied behind his back and his face on
the floor. He stated that this was more unbearable than being
subjected to electric shocks. On one occasion Shaikh Yahya was
suspended from a window for three days. Another method of torture
that he described was that while suspended a heavy weight was
attached to his genitals and was left hanging for some time.
After five months of detention in the building of the Saddam
Security Directorate al-Shaikh Yahya and 21 other detainees
arrested at the same time were transferred to the Security
Directorate of al-Rassafa district, also in Baghdad. He remained
held without charge or trial until 14 April 2000 when he was

Al-Shaikh Mohammad 'Aziz Rahif al-'Aqqabi, a 27-year-old man
married with children, was arrested in the early hours of 14 May
2000 in his house in Saddam City. He was accused of involvement
in the murder of the head of Saddam Security Directorate which
took place during the disturbances. He was held in Saddam
Security Directorate during which he was tortured. In the first
15 days he was held in solitary confinement blindfolded and his
hands tied behind his back. The blindfold was removed only during
prayers. He stated to Amnesty International:

''...on the second day of my arrival I was taken to a room for
interrogation. The blindfold was removed. The interrogator asked
me a lot of questions about people I knew but I said I did not
know them. Then he asked the guard to take me to al-Gannara [
butcher's] room. Once inside the room the blindfold was removed
again and the room was empty. I then had my hands tied with a
telephone cable behind my back. I was made to stand on a barrel
and then the guards encircled each of my upper arms with a tight
belt. The belts had a knob. The knobs were tied to a rope and
onto a horizontal rod. The guards then pushed the barrel I was
standing on and I was left suspended. One guard then held me from
the waist and started to pull me down. This was very painful. The
interrogator asked the guard to tie my penis and one of my toes
to an electric wire and onto an electric motor. He would then
turn the electricity on and would increase it. The interrogator
was also beating me with a stick on my back...''.

Al-Shaikh al-'Aqqabi was regularly tortured during the first 15
days of detention. He was made to confront one of his friends who
under torture had told the interrogators that Shaikh al-'Aqqabi
was involved in the killing of the head of Saddam Security
Directorate. Al-Shaikh al-'Aqqabi ''confessed'' to the killing
under torture. However the details he gave about the
circumstances surrounding the killing convinced the security
officers interrogating him that he was not involved. Nevertheless
he was kept detained without trial and was tortured further in
order to extract from him information about activities of other
followers of Ayatollah al-Sadr. He was released on 7 November

Iyyad Taresh Sajet al-Sa'idi, a 25-year-old former student at
Baghdad's Institute of Fine Arts, was arrested together with
three of his brothers, Salem, Hamid, Fahd, on 26 June 1999. They
were arrested and held in Saddam Security Directorate as
substitute prisoners because another brother, al-Shaikh Nasser
Taresh Sajet al-Sa'idi was sought by the security authorities.
When al-Shaikh Nasser, aged 31 and married with two children, was
arrested on 30 June 1999 in al-Najaf where he had been studying
theology, and was transferred to Saddam Security Directorate the
brothers were not released. They were interrogated in connection
with the activities of al-Shaikh Nasser who was a follower of
Ayatollah al-Sadr. Each one of them was made to attend the
torture of al-Shaikh Nasser. They themselves were tortured
separately in front of their brother. Methods of torture included
being left suspended and electric shocks being applied on their
bodies including their genitals. They were tortured every two or
three days during the first three weeks. The three brothers
stayed in Saddam Security Directorate until 7 August 1999 when
they were transferred to al-Rassafa Security Directorate. On 15
November 1999 they were taken back to Saddam Security Directorate
and were released five days later. Following his release Iyyad
al-Sa'idi discovered that he had been dismissed from the
Institute of Fine Arts. His brother al-Shaikh Nasser was
sentenced to death on 13 May 2000. At the beginning of 2001 he
was transferred to al-Radhwaniya detention centre where he is
reported to be still on death row. No information relating to the
exact charges against him or his trial is available to Amnesty

3.2 Other suspected political opponents

B (name withheld), a Kurdish businessman from Baghdad, married
with children, was arrested in December 1996 outside his house by
plainclothes security men. Initially his family did not know his
whereabouts and went from one police station to another enquiring
about him. Then through friends they found out that he was being
held in the headquarters of the General Security Directorate in
Baghdad. The family was not allowed to visit him. Eleven months
later in November 1997 the family was told by the authorities
that he had been executed and that they should go and collect his
body. His body reportedly bore evident signs of torture. His eyes
were gouged out and the empty eye sockets were filled with paper.
His right wrist and left leg were broken. The family was not
given any reason for his arrest and subsequent execution.
However, they suspected that he was executed because of his
friendship with a retired army general who had links with the
Iraqi opposition outside the country and who was arrested just
before B.'s arrest and was also executed.

Salah Mahdi, a 35-year-old traffic warden in al-Mansur district
in Baghdad, married with three children, was arrested together
with scores of people following the attempted assassination of
'Uday Saddam Hussain, the eldest son of the President, in
December 1996. He was accused of neglect because he did not
notice the car the assailants used. He was held in the Special
Security building and was severely tortured. He died, reportedly
as a result of torture, in around June 1997. His family was told
that he had died but the body was never returned to them for
burial despite their repeated requests and to date his burial
place reportedly remains unknown to the family.

'Abd al-Wahad al-Rifa'i, a 58-year retired teacher, who was
executed by hanging after he had been held in prison without
charge or trial for more than two years. On 26 March 2001 his
family in Baghdad collected his body from the Baghdad Security
Headquarters. The body reportedly bore clear marks of torture
including the pulling out of toe-nails and swelling on his right
eye. 'Abd Wahad al-Rifa'i, married with nine children, was
arrested on 8 March 1999. Initially he was held in the
headquarters of the General Security Directorate in Baghdad then
transferred to the Baghdad Security Headquarters. He was believed
to have been arrested because the authorities suspected that he
was in contact with the Iraqi opposition abroad through his
brother, 'Abd al-Rahim al-Rifa'i, an active anti-government
opponent living in Europe. 'Abd al-Wahad al-Rifa'i's wife and
children have reportedly had their food ration card withdrawn
from them as a punishment and the authorities also stopped
pension payments which 'Abd al-Wahad was receiving before his

Hundreds of army and security officers have been arrested in
recent years and many have been executed. Charges against them
have included plotting to overthrow the government or having
contacts with the opposition abroad. Many were subjected to
torture. A former Iraqi General Intelligence officer C (name
withheld) told Amnesty International that he was arrested in mid
-1990s on suspicion of having contacts with the opposition. He
was held in solitary confinement for two years at the
headquarters of the General Intelligence in al-Hakimiya in
Baghdad. During the two years of detention he endured prolonged
and repeated torture in the interrogation room. He was left
suspended for long hours from a horizontal rod. His hands and
feet were tied behind his back and was suspended from the upper
arms. He was also beaten with a cable on different parts of the
body, especially on the back of his head. Electric shocks were
applied to various parts of the body and a wooden stick was
inserted into his anus. He was held in solitary confinement all
this time. The cell he was held in was painted entirely in red,
including the ceiling, the floor and the doors. The light was red
too. It is often referred to as the ''red room'' by former
torture victims. He was released at the end of 1997. However he
was rearrested again two years later also on suspicion of
establishing contacts with the opposition and was held in the
same detention centre. He was subjected to the same forms of
torture as described above. C has now been left with permanent
physical damage.

A number of former Iraqi political detainees were forced to
undergo surgery to have a leg or arm amputated because they had
been tortured for long periods of time and had developed gangrene
for which they did not receive medical treatment. They had no
choice but to sign statements in hospitals to the effect that it
was solely their decision to have the amputation carried out.


Women too have been tortured, ill-treated and in some cases
extrajudicially executed in Iraq. Su'ad Jihad Shams al-Din, a 61
-year-old medical doctor, was arrested at her clinic in Baghdad
on 29 June 1999 on suspicion that she had contacts with Shi'a
Islamist groups. She was detained without charge or trial and was
released on 25 July 1999. She was initially held in Baghdad
Security Directorate and then was transferred to al-Ambar
Security Directorate (also in Baghdad) on 5 July. Su'ad Jihad
Shams al-Din was tortured frequently during interrogation by
security men. Methods of torture included mostly beatings on the
sole (falaqa) with a cable.

Some women have been raped in custody. They were detained and
tortured because they were relatives of well known Iraqi
opposition activists living abroad. The security authorities use
this method to put pressure on Iraqi nationals abroad to cease
their activities. For example, on 7 June 2000 Najib al-Salihi, a
former army general who fled Iraq in 1995 and joined the Iraqi
opposition, was sent a videotape showing the rape of a female
relative. Shortly afterwards he reportedly received a telephone
call from the Iraqi intelligence service, asking him whether he
had received the ''gift'' and informing him that his relative was
in their custody.

In October 2000 dozens of women suspected of prostitution were
beheaded without any judicial process in Baghdad and other cities
after they had been arrested and ill-treated. Men suspected of
procurement were also beheaded. The killings were reportedly
carried out in the presence of representatives of the Ba'ath
Party and the Iraqi Women's General Union. Members of Feda'iyye
Saddam, a militia created in 1994 by 'Uday Saddam Hussain, used
swords to execute the victims in front of their homes. Some
victims were reportedly killed in this manner for political

Najat Mohammad Haydar, an obstetrician in Baghdad, was beheaded
in October 2000 apparently on suspicion of prostitution. However,
she was reportedly arrested before the introduction of the policy
to behead prostitutes and was said to have been critical of
corruption within the health services.

A woman known as ''Um Haydar'' was beheaded reportedly without
charge or trial at the end of December 2000. She was 25 years'
old and married with three children. Her husband was sought by
the security authorities reportedly because of his involvement in
Islamist armed activities against the state. He managed to flee
the country. Men belonging to Feda'iyye Saddam came to the house
in al-Karrada district and found his wife, children and his
mother. Um Haydar was taken to the street and two men held her by
the arms and a third pulled her head from behind and beheaded her
in front of the residents. The beheading was also witnessed by
members of the Ba'ath Party in the area. The security men took
the body and the head in a plastic bag, and took away the
children and the mother-in-law. The body of Um Haydar was later
buried in al-Najaf. The fate of the children and the mother-in-
law remains unknown.


In 1994 Iraq, through a series of decrees issued by the
Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the highest legislative body
in the country, introduced judicial punishments amounting to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments for at
least 30 criminal offences, including theft in certain
circumstances, monopolizing rationed goods, defaulting or
deserting from military service and performing plastic surgery on
an amputated arm or leg. The punishments consisted of the
amputation of the right hand for a first offence, and of the left
foot for a second offence, or the severance of one or both ears.
People convicted under these decrees were also branded with an
''X'' mark on the forehead.(5) The Iraqi Government argued that
the introduction of these severe punishments were in response to
the rising crime rate resulting from worsening economic
conditions as a result of the UN imposed sanctions. The
punishment of amputation of the auricle of the ears and the
branding of the foreheads were suspended in 1996 by the Iraqi
Government, through RCC Decree 81/96.

A number of former soldiers who suffered amputation or had their
ears cut off have fled the country and now live with permanent
physical damage as a result of such punishments. They include:

Ahmad Dakhel Kadhim, aged 30, from al-Samawa in al-Muthanna
governorate in southern Iraq, was arrested on 1 September 1994.
He had been serving in the army and then deserted following the
invasion of Kuwait. He was in hiding until his arrest. He was
taken to al-Samawa prison where he was detained for three days
and then he was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. He
later found himself in al-Samawa hospital. He was made to lie on
a bed and his hands were tied to each side of the bed. He was
given an anaesthetic and when he recovered consciousness his
right ear had been cut off as a punishment. He was taken back to
the same prison and then transferred to other prisons until 23
December 1994, when he managed to escape from prison, and at the
beginning of 1995 he fled the country. Ahmad Dakhel Kadhim has
been sentenced to death in absentia.

Majed 'Abd al-Wahed al-Sarraji, aged 30 from Baghdad, was
arrested on 15 September 1994 because he failed to join the army
when he was called to service. He told Amnesty International:

''I was taken to al-Rashidiya al-Hussainiya Prison in Baghdad. I
stayed there for three days without being interrogated. Then on
the fourth day they called my name and took me to al-Nu'man
Hospital in Baghdad. I was given anaesthetic by injection on my
right arm and when I woke up I discovered that they had cut off a
small part of my right ear... I was taken back to the same prison
where I stayed for 40 days. I found out later that all my family
had been forcibly transferred by the security forces to a camp in
al-Nahrawan, just outside Baghdad. The camp was surrounded by
armed guards. My family was held for three months and were then
allowed back to the house. I was transferred to al-Fudhaylia
detention centre in Baghdad and six weeks later I was taken to
al-Diwaniya Prison, south of Baghdad. I was held in this prison
for two years. I was in a room where there were around 50
detainees. All of us in the room had one or both ears cut off
partially or completely...''.

Majed 'Abd al-Wahed al-Sarraji managed to escape with a few
inmates from al-Diwaniya Prison. He was living in hiding until
the beginning of 1999 when he managed to flee the country.

Amputations were very often publicized in Iraqi media, including
television and newspapers. However, since the end of 1996,
following international condemnation of these punishments,
reports of amputations being carried out have rarely been
publicized in Iraq. In August 1998 six members of Feda'iyye
Saddam reportedly had their hands amputated by order of 'Uday
Saddam Hussain. They were said to have been accused of theft and
extortion from travellers in the southern city of Basra.

Amputation of the tongue was reportedly approved by the
authorities in mid-2000 as a new penalty for slander or abusive
remarks about the President or his family. In September 2000 a
man reportedly had his tongue amputated by members of Feda'iyye
Saddam in Baghdad for slandering the President. He was said to
have been driven around after the punishment while information
about his alleged offence was broadcast through a loudspeaker.

Amnesty International had publicly called on the Iraqi Government
to abolish the penalties of amputation and branding and to
provide reparation for all victims, or for families of victims.
In November 1997 the UN Human Rights Committee, the international
body of experts responsible for supervising the implementation of
the ICCPR, examining Iraq's fourth periodic report expressed deep
concern that Iraq ''has resorted to the imposition of cruel,
inhuman and degrading punishments, such as amputation and
branding, which are incompatible with Article 7 of the Covenant
[ICCPR]'' and urged that such punishments be ceased immediately.
(6) The Committee recommended that ''a thorough review of
existing temporary laws and decrees be undertaken with a view to
ensuring their compliance with the provisions of the Covenant''.


Suspected government opponents and occasionally others are
systematically and routinely tortured in Iraq. Some of the
victims have died and many have been left with permanent physical
and psychological damage. Others have been left with mutilated
bodies resulting from the application of certain judicial
punishments introduced by the government in the 1990s. Amnesty
International's concerns about the systematic use of torture and
about other gross human rights violations in the country are
shared by the UN Commission on Human Rights which, in its 2001
session, condemned the ''widespread, systematic torture and the
maintaining of decrees prescribing cruel and inhuman punishment
as a penalty for offences''. The Commission called on the
government to ''abrogate all decrees that prescribe cruel and
inhuman punishment or treatment, including mutilation, and to
ensure that torture and cruel punishment and treatment no longer

Amnesty International is now urging the Iraqi Government to:

1 Ratify and implement fully in domestic law and practice the
United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

2 Repeal all decrees introduced in the 1990s which amount to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments;

3 Set up an independent body to undertake prompt, thorough and
impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill
-treatment, including cases of death in custody, and ensure that
the methods and findings of such investigations are made public;

4 Bring to justice anyone responsible for committing acts of
torture and other serious human rights violations;

5 Issue a public declaration that torture, including rape, will
not be tolerated under any circumstances;

6 Ensure that women prisoners are kept separately from men and
supervised only by female prison officials;

7 Prohibit by law all extrajudicial executions;

8 Condemn publicly the practice of extrajudicial executions, and
make clear to all authorities that such killings will not be

9 Demonstrate respect for the inherent right to life by putting
an immediate end to executions;

10 Pending the abolition of the death penalty in law for all
offences, commute all outstanding death sentences and ensure that
it is never applied in violation of Article 6(2)(9) of the ICCPR;

11 Declare a moratorium on executions as called for by the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights in April 1999;(10)

Appendix Amnesty International's 12-Point Program for the Prevention of
Torture by Agents of the State

Torture is a fundamental violation of human rights, condemned by
the international community as an offence to human dignity and
prohibited in all circumstances under international law. Yet torture persists, daily and across the globe. Immediate steps
are needed to confront torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment wherever they occur and to
eradicate them totally. Amnesty International calls on all governments to implement the
following 12-Point Program for the Prevention of Torture by
Agents of the State. It invites concerned individuals and
organizations to ensure that they do so. Amnesty International
believes that the implementation of these measures is a positive
indication of a government's commitment to end torture and to
work for its eradication worldwide.

1. Condemn torture The highest authorities of every country should demonstrate their
total opposition to torture. They should condemn torture
unreservedly whenever it occurs. They should make clear to all
members of the police, military and other security forces that
torture will never be tolerated.

2. Ensure access to prisoners Torture often takes place while prisoners are held incommunicado
unable to contact people outside who could help them or find
out what is happening to them. The practice of incommunicado
detention should be ended. Governments should ensure that all
prisoners are brought before an independent judicial authority
without delay after being taken into custody. Prisoners should
have access to relatives, lawyers and doctors without delay and
regularly thereafter.

3. No secret detention In some countries torture takes place in secret locations, often
after the victims are made to ''disappear''. Governments should
ensure that prisoners are held only in officially recognized
places of detention and that accurate information about their
arrest and whereabouts is made available immediately to
relatives, lawyers and the courts. Effective judicial remedies
should be available at all times to enable relatives and lawyers
to find out immediately where a prisoner is held and under what
authority and to ensure the prisoner's safety.

4. Provide safeguards during detention and interrogation All prisoners should be immediately informed of their rights.
These include the right to lodge complaints about their treatment
and to have a judge rule without delay on the lawfulness of their
detention. Judges should investigate any evidence of torture and
order release if the detention is unlawful. A lawyer should be
present during interrogations. Governments should ensure that
conditions of detention conform to international standards for
the treatment of prisoners and take into account the needs of
members of particularly vulnerable groups. The authorities
responsible for detention should be separate from those in charge
of interrogation. There should be regular, independent,
unannounced and unrestricted visits of inspection to all places
of detention.

5. Prohibit torture in law Governments should adopt laws for the prohibition and prevention
of torture incorporating the main elements of the UN Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (Convention against Torture) and other relevant
international standards. All judicial and administrative corporal
punishments should be abolished. The prohibition of torture and
the essential safeguards for its prevention must not be suspended
under any circumstances, including states of war or other public

6. Investigate All complaints and reports of torture should be promptly,
impartially and effectively investigated by a body independent of
the alleged perpetrators. The methods and findings of such
investigations should be made public. Officials suspected of
committing torture should be suspended from active duty during
the investigation. Complainants, witnesses and others at risk
should be protected from intimidation and reprisals.

7. Prosecute Those responsible for torture must be brought to justice. This
principle should apply wherever alleged torturers happen to be,
whatever their nationality or position, regardless of where the
crime was committed and the nationality of the victims, and no
matter how much time has elapsed since the commission of the
crime. Governments must exercise universal jurisdiction over
alleged torturers or extradite them, and cooperate with each
other in such criminal proceedings. Trials must be fair. An order
from a superior officer must never be accepted as a justification
for torture.

8. No use of statements extracted under torture Governments should ensure that statements and other evidence
obtained through torture may not be invoked in any proceedings,
except against a person accused of torture.

9. Provide effective training It should be made clear during the training of all officials
involved in the custody, interrogation or medical care of
prisoners that torture is a criminal act. Officials should be
instructed that they have the right and duty to refuse to obey
any order to torture.

10. Provide reparation Victims of torture and their dependants should be entitled to
obtain prompt reparation from the state including restitution,
fair and adequate financial compensation and appropriate medical
care and rehabilitation.

11. Ratify international treaties All governments should ratify without reservations international
treaties containing safeguards against torture, including the UN
Convention against Torture with declarations providing for
individual and inter-state complaints. Governments should comply
with the recommendations of international bodies and experts on
the prevention of torture.

12. Exercise international responsibility Governments should use all available channels to intercede with
the governments of countries where torture is reported. They
should ensure that transfers of training and equipment for
military, security or police use do not facilitate torture.
Governments must not forcibly return a person to a country where
he or she risks being tortured.

This 12-Point Program was adopted by Amnesty International in
October 2000 as a program of measures to prevent the torture and
ill-treatment of people who are in governmental custody or
otherwise in the hands of agents of the state. Amnesty
International holds governments to their international
obligations to prevent and punish torture, whether committed by
agents of the state or by other individuals. Amnesty
International also opposes torture by armed political groups.


(1) In July 1999 Amnesty International issued a public statement
explaining the organization's position on sanctions, as well as
calling on the UN Security Council to give urgent attention to
the humanitarian situation in Iraq and taking all necessary
measures to protect the rights of the civilian population. For
more information see the public statement entitled Iraq: UN
Security Council Considers the Humanitarian Panel's Report on
Sanctions, AI Index: MDE 14/06/99, issued on 28 July 1999. (2) Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr and two of his sons, Hojjatu
al-Islam al-Sayyid Mostafa al-Sadr and al-Sayyid Mu'ammal al-
Sadr, were shot dead by armed men in al-Najaf. Their family were
said to have been denied a funeral ceremony. Iraqi opposition
groups blamed the government for their killing. Amnesty
International condemned the killings and urged the government to
set up an immediate, thorough and independent investigation. (3) AFP report, 22 February 1999. (4) Reuters report, 15 May 1999. (5) For more details on these punishments see Amnesty
International's report Iraq: State cruelty - branding, amputation
and the death penalty, AI Index: MDE 14/03/96, published in April
1996 (6) UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.84, para 12 (7) Ibid (8) E/CN.4/RES/2001/14. 18 April 2001. Situation of human rights
in Iraq. (9) Article 6(2) of the ICCPR states that In countries which have
not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed
only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in
force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary
to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention
on the Prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This
penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment
rendered by a competent court. (10) In its Resolution 1999/61, adopted on 28 April the
Commission called on all states which maintain the death penalty
to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to
completely abolishing the death penalty.

AI INDEX: MDE 14/008/2001 15 August 2001 Printer Friendly Printer Friendly PDF

Related Documents
(MDE 14/063/2003) Iraq: Soldiers' civilian disguise likely to
rebound on civilians
(MDE 14/062/2003) Iraq: US must investigate civilian deaths
(MDE 14/060/2003) Iraq: Amnesty International Daily Digest -
March 31 2003
(MDE 14/058/2003) Iraq war: Global backlash against human rights
(MDE 14/056/2003) Iraq: Amnesty International Week's Round-Up -
March 28 2003
(MDE 14/051/2003) Iraq: Amnesty International Daily Digest -
March 27 2003

Copyright Amnesty International

homepage: homepage: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/engMDE140082001?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIESIRAQ?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIESIRAQ