HRW: Torture persists in Iraq jail

US-based group says torture is ongoing in Mosul's Faisaliya prison, despite calls on government to take action.

    HRW said Iraqi judges had "routinely failed" to investigate credible reports of torture in detention [File: Ahmad Al Rubaye/AFP]
    HRW said Iraqi judges had "routinely failed" to investigate credible reports of torture in detention [File: Ahmad Al Rubaye/AFP]

    Iraqi officers have continued to torture detainees in the country's second largest city of Mosul, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

    HRW documented new torture allegations early this year at the Faisaliya prison in northern Iraq, around six months after publishing a report on what it said were "chilling" abuses there and in two nearby facilities.

    The rights group said it had reached out about last year's allegations to the Iraqi prime minister's office, the foreign ministry and the interior ministry, without response.

    "If the Iraqi government ignores credible reports of torture, it's no wonder that the abuses persist," said Lama Fakih, HRW's deputy Middle East director.

    "What will it take for the authorities to take torture allegations seriously?"

    ISIL fighters' families struggle in Iraqi society

    A detainee held in Faisaliya prison in early 2019 described guards beating groups of naked detainees on their feet with plastic piping until they confessed to being affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

    The prisoner said guards also waterboarded detainees and suspended them from the ceiling with their hands tied behind their backs.

    Faisaliya is located in eastern Mosul, the battered Iraqi city that was ISIL's de facto capital for three years before Iraqi government forces recaptured it in late 2017.

    Iraq has since tried thousands of its own citizens, as well as hundreds of foreigners, for affiliation to the armed group.

    But rights groups including HRW say the accused are often detained on lofty or circumstantial evidence, their trials do not guarantee due process, and that torture is widespread in Iraq's prison system.

    In a press release on Thursday, HRW said Iraqi judges had "routinely failed" to investigate credible reports of torture in detention.

    The group urged Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi's government to publicly condemn the use of torture by all law enforcement, security and military personnel.

    "Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi's government should demonstrate to the Iraqi people that it is serious about ending torture in Iraq's detention facilities," Fakih said.

    "Strong actions are needed," she said.

    Earlier this month, the group said, Iraq's High Judicial Council told HRW that Iraqi courts had investigated 275 complaints against investigative officers by the end of 2018.

    The council said 176 had been "resolved," without providing details of the outcome, while 99 were still being addressed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies