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Old 09-22-2006, 12:41 AM
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Default U.N. expert: Iraq torture may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein


U.N. expert: Iraq torture may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein

By ELIANE ENGELER, Associated Press Writer Thu Sep 21, 2006

GENEVA - Torture in Iraq may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein, with militias, terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the humane treatment of prisoners, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Thursday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, made the remarks as he was presenting a report on detainee conditions at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay as well as to brief the U.N. Human Rights Council, the global body's top rights watchdog, on torture worldwide.

Reports from Iraq indicate that torture "is totally out of hand," he said. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

Nowak added, "That means something, because the torture methods applied under Saddam Hussein were the worst you could imagine."

Some allegations of torture were undoubtedly credible, with government forces among the perpetrators, he said, citing "very serious allegations of torture within the official Iraqi detention centers."

"You have terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias. There are so many people who are actually abducted, seriously tortured and finally killed," Nowak told reporters at the U.N.'s European headquarters.

"It's not just torture by the government. There are much more brutal methods of torture you'll find by private militias," he said.

A report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office cited worrying evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in "honor killings" of women.

Iraq's government, set up in 2006, is "currently facing a generalized breakdown of law and order which presents a serious challenge to the institutions of Iraq" such as police and security forces and the legal system, the U.N. report said, noting that torture was a major concern.

Nowak has yet to make an official visit to Iraq and said such a mission would be unfeasible as long as the security situation there remains perilous. He based his comments on interviews with people during a visit to Amman, Jordan, and other sources.

"You find these bodies with very heavy and very serious torture marks," he said. "Many of these allegations, I have no doubt that they are credible."

According to the U.N. report, the number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high that is far greater than initial estimates suggested, the U.N. report said Wednesday.

It attributed many of the deaths to rising sectarian tensions that have pushed Iraq toward civil war.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060921/ap_on_re_mi_ea/un_iraq_torture;_ylt=AmPNku4J.r45ZmLXteXNrSms0NUE; _ylu=X3oDMTA3OTB1amhuBHNlYwNtdHM-

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