Redecorating the Rape Rooms

From Holden:

The State Department reports that life in Iraq today is no less brutal than life under Saddam.

The State Department on Monday detailed an array of human rights abuses last year by the Iraqi government, including torture, rape and illegal detentions by police officers and functionaries of the interim administration that took power in June.

In the Bush administration’s bluntest description of human rights transgressions by the American-supported government, the report said the Iraqis “generally respected human rights, but serious problems remained” as the government and American-led foreign forces fought a violent insurgency. It cited “reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions – particularly in pretrial detention facilities – and arbitrary arrest and detention.”


The allegations of abuses by an Iraqi government installed by the United States and still heavily influenced by it provided an unusual element to the larger report. The report did not address incidents in Iraq in which Americans were involved, like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which came to light in 2004.


These included reports that police officers in Basra were involved in killing 10 Baath Party members; that the police in Baghdad arrested, interrogated and killed 12 kidnappers of three police officers on Oct. 16, 2004, and that corruption was a problem at every level of government.

The document cited without comment a report by Human Rights Watch, an independent advocacy group, that “torture and ill treatment of detainees by police was commonplace,” allegedly including “beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks to their earlobes and genitals, food and water deprivation.”

In one case, the report said, enough evidence had been gathered “to prosecute police officers in Baghdad who were systematically raping and torturing female detainees.” Two of them received prison sentences, while four were demoted and reassigned.


There were also reports of police officers making false arrests to extort money from the families of detainees, and of an Iraqi ministry having members of a political party arrested in order to occupy their offices. “Reportedly,” the document said, “coerced confessions and interrogation continued to be the favored method of investigation by police.”