UK urged to come clean over Iraq abuse

The British government is coming under increasing pressure to come clean over the alleged mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in British-run prisons in the country.

    Abuse allegations have rocked the UK government

    The former UK foreign secretary urged the government on Sunday to publish a confidential report by the Red Cross that highlights concerns about abuses in British prisons in southern Iraq.

    Robin Cook's comments follow Downing Street's recent admission that it saw a copy of the controversial report in February - weeks before claims of abuse surfaced in the press.

    "I hope we will get a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow (Monday) and I hope in that statement the British government will say we are going to publish this report from the Red Cross," Cook told BBC television.

    Alleged abuse

    "Until they do, really we cannot see what independent people are saying about the problem and how severe it is."

    He added: "I find it intolerable that all we know about this report is what is actually leaked in Washington."

    Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon will field MPs' questions about the situation in Iraq on Monday, including alleged abuse by British troops.

    But the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Sunday that it is "not likely" to publish the document, saying it is confidential.

    "I hope... the British government will say we are going to publish this report from the Red Cross

    ... Until they do, really we cannot see what independent people are saying about the problem and how severe it is"

    Robin Cook,
    Former UK foreign secretary

    Meanwhile, new claims of abuse emerged in UK newspapers on Sunday.

    Newspaper claims

    The Sunday Times said British soldiers are facing possible charges over alleged serious sexual assaults and abuse of prisoners.

    The Independent on Sunday reported eight new cases of British soldiers allegedly shooting dead eight Iraqi civilians in cold blood.

    The revelations come after the Daily Mirror published a series of photos over the last week, allegedly detailing abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops.

    The Red Cross has said abuse of prisoners in US-run prisons in Iraq

    was highlighted in its report

    as well as concerns about British-run prisons in southern Iraq.

    Red Cross concerns

    At a press conference last Friday, the ICRC's director of operations, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, said US authorities had broken international laws.

    The humanitarian organisation also declared on Friday that it had previously warned the UK of abuses.

    Spokesman Roland Huguenin-Benjamin told Sky News: "The concern we have been expressing for a year now deals with a general pattern of mistreatment of detainees.

    "We were warning of the fact that the treatment given to prisoners and in particular the way they were prepared for interrogation is not acceptable from the point of view of the Geneva Convention."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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