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Amnesty International Accuses Coalition Authority of Human Rights Violations

In a news report released July 23, Amnesty International (AI) stated it has received reports of unlawful imprisonment of Iraqis and torture by coalition forces, as well as shooting of civilians and theft of property.
One man and his 15-year-old son were arrested after coalition forces found a pistol in their car on May 15. The father was freed after a month, while his son was bounced from prison to prison before being released on July 20. During the boy's imprisonment, the boy's family had no access to their son. In fact, the father was warned against seeking his son out at any prison upon fear of re-arrest.

AI documented another instance of a father-and-son arrest, when coalition forces took an 80-year-old man and his 39-year old son from their home on April 30. The younger man "was hooded and handcuffed and made to stand or kneel facing a wall for nearly eight days while he was being interrogated. He suffered from sleep deprivation as a bright light was placed next to his head and distorted music was playing. His knees bled so he mostly stood and by the end he said his leg was swollen to the size of a football. His father was held in the cell next to him and could hear his son's screams."

Despite a current Coalition Provisional Authority ban against AI's investigation of prison camps, the human rights organization has documented testimony from released inmates describing inhumane conditions.

"Former detainees told Amnesty International that people detained by coalition forces were held in tents in the extreme heat and were not provided with sufficient drinking water or adequate washing facilities. They were forced to use open trenches for toilets and were not given a change of clothes -- even after two months' detention," AI reported.

Other violations occurred during raids on private homes, including the death of a 12-year-old boy who was shot in late June while carrying his family's bedding up to their roof. A U.S. soldier fired at him from a neighboring home.

Though the boy was not killed, soldiers prevented neighbors from driving him to the hospital, as it would violate a mandatory curfew. By the time they were ordered home, the boy was dead.

Testimonies also include reports of destruction and theft of private property, including more than three million dinars ($2,000) stolen from one home raided by U.S. troops -- a crime acknowledged by U.S. authorities.

Regardless, AI reported U.S. officers said, "that redress would be long and difficult as they lacked the means to find out where the division accused of committing the crime was now stationed."

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