London – The torture of Iraqi prisoners by United States and British soldiers is “not an isolated incident”, the human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) said on Friday.
Responding to television pictures showing the abuse of naked Iraqi prisoners in the presence of jeering US soldiers, AI said in a statement: “It is not enough for the USA to react only once images have hit the television screens.”
The organisation said there was a “real crisis of leadership in Iraq -with double standards and double speak on human rights”.
“There must be a fully independent, impartial and public investigation into all allegations of torture. Nothing less will suffice,” said AI, adding that compensation should be paid to the victims or their families.
The organisation also said that it had received “frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by coalition forces during the past year” which included sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged hooding and restraint in painful positions, and exposure to bright lights and loud music.
Virtually none of the allegations had been adequately investigated, said AI.
AI deplored in particular that the most recent scenes took place at the Abu Ghuraib prison which had gained notoriety for mistreatment and torture of prisoners under former president Saddam Hussein.
Among the images shown by CBS were naked male prisoners forced to pretend having sex with each other, prisoners with wires clipped to their bodies, a hooded prisoner standing on a small box with wires attached to his stretched-out arms, and prisoners with wires attached to their genitals.
US military spokesperson Brigadier-General Mark Kimmit responded to the footage by saying he was “alarmed” by the pictures.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Tony Blair also said on Friday the actions were in “direct contravention of all policy under which the coalition operates”.
Last month, AI had warned in a report that the human rights situation for Iraqis remained dire one year after the fall of Saddam Hussein: “The promise of improved human rights for Iraqis remains far from realised.”
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