- Title: VARIOUS: US reports serious human rights abuses in Iraq
- Date: 9th March 2006
- Summary: ABU GHRAIB PRISON; IRAQ (FILE) (REUTERS) PRISONER WAVING RED COTH FORM PRISON
- Reuters ID: LVAEMY1JKJXRFV60QRAPLPNZFY5U
- Duration: 00:00:07
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- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
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- Story Text: Three years after U.S. forces invaded Iraq in part to stop human rights violations a U.S. report said on Wednesday (March 8) that the country was again racked by abuses from arbitrary killings and arrests to torture.
In its annual report detailing human rights abuses worldwide, the State Department said in 2005 reports increased of killings by the Iraqi government or its agents and members of sectarian militias dominated many police units.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "How a country treats its own people is a strong indication of how it will behave towards its neighbors."
At a media briefing after the release of the report, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Barry F. Lowenkron said: "Countries in which power is concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers tend to be the world's most systematic human rights violators.
"These states range from closed totalitarian systems, like Burma and North Korea to authoritarian systems like Belarus and Zimbabwe in which the exercise of basic rights is severely restricted.
"I do not want to leave you with the impression that everything is all fine and well in Iraq, that is not the case. If you read the report, you will find out the specific areas where we still need to see serious work to be done."
On July 12 last year, nine Sunni men suffocated after police locked them up for several hours in a vehicle with no air conditioning. No one was punished for the incident and officials denied intentional wrongdoing.
Some detainees in Iraqi military custody alleged abuse that included hanging inmates upside down until they lost consciousness, beating with wooden and plastic sticks, weapons and electric cords, and use of electric shocks and stun guns.
The report said "unsettled conditions" in Iraq and insurgent and terrorist attacks hampered the government's human rights performance.
The world's "most systematic" human rights violators included North Korea and Burma where the report said the promise of democratic reform served as a "facade for brutality and repression."
The global report also listed abuses among both allies and traditional foes, from close friends Saudi Arabia and Egypt to adversaries Iran, Syria and Zimbabwe.
The report did not list any abuses committed by the United States, which has come under strong international criticism for its treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and at a U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Lowenkron told reporters that; "We are disappointed that the report that was issued -- the people that wrote the report did not even bother to interview doctors. They based their entire report on discusions with defense attorneys."
In Africa, Zimbabwe maintained a "steady assault on human dignity" and basic freedoms and the government there displaced or destroyed the livelihoods of more than 700,000 people last year.
China's human rights record was also poor with anyone who publicly challenged the government facing harassment, detention or imprisonment, the report said.
China's control of the internet also came under fire from the State Department.
Lowenkron added: "In 2005, a disturbing number of countries from Cambodia to Venezuela and Russia, Belarus to Zimbabwe and China, passed or selectively applied laws against NGO's and the media, including in China's case, the internet -- restricting or having a chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental expression, association and assembly."
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- Embargoed:24th March 2006 12:00