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US commanders authorized widespread abuse of Iraqi detainees: HRW report

[JURIST] US military commanders in Iraq regularly authorized torture and abusive interrogation practices even in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal [JURIST news archive], and military lawyers brought in to brief interrogators erroneously told them that the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] did not apply to their detainees, according to a new Human Rights Watch report [text] released Sunday. The report, based partly on interviews with US soldiers, also says that soldiers who objected to the harsh interrogation methods were regularly discouraged from making or pursuing complaints. Two US detention facilities in Iraq - an off-limits site at Baghdad airport called Camp Nama [JURIST report] whose inmates were never registered with the Red Cross, contrary to international law, and another site in Mosul - were singled out as being particularly abuse-prone.

John Sifton, who authored the HRW report, said “These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used.” While several enlisted soldiers were court-martialed in connection with Abu Ghraib, not one intelligence officer or commander has yet been prosecuted for detainee abuses. Responding to the report, a US military spokesman said that "The standard of treatment is and always has been humane treatment of detainees in DOD's custody." HRW has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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