Annual Report: Iraq 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Iraq 2011

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Shi'a militia, in particular members of 'Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (the League of the Righteous), a Mahdi Army splinter group, also committed gross human rights abuses, including kidnapping and murder.

Many victims of attacks were civilians, including members of ethnic and religious minorities, local authority officials, lawyers and judges, journalists and other professionals. Women and children were among those killed.

  • On 25 January, three co-ordinated suicide car bombs exploded in quick succession in central Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and injuring more than 75 others. The Islamic State of Iraq, a front for al-Qa'ida in Iraq, claimed responsibility.
  • On 2 February, a woman walking with Shi'a pilgrims in Baghdad detonated an explosive belt killing at least 54 people and injuring more than 100 others.
  • On 14 May, three suicide bombers killed around 25 people and injured more than 100 at a football field in a Shi'a neighbourhood of Tal-'Afar, a Turkomen town between Mosul and the Syrian border.
  • On 31 October, more than 40 worshippers were killed in a Catholic church in Baghdad following an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, during which about 100 worshippers were taken hostage. Following a three-hour stand-off, Iraqi security forces stormed the church and the hostage-takers reportedly used grenades and detonated suicide belts to kill hostages.

Detention without trial

Thousands of people continued to be held without charge or trial. Some were held by the USF-I and transferred to Iraqi custody by mid-July, when the last US-run prison, Camp Cropper, was handed to Iraqi control. Many detainees had no access to lawyers and their families, and some were held in secret prisons operated by the Ministries of Interior and Defence where torture and other ill-treatment were rife. Most detainees were Sunni Muslims suspected of supporting Sunni armed groups. Many had been held for several years.

  • Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib, a police officer, remained held without charge or trial. He was arrested by US soldiers at the police station where he worked, near Tikrit, on 17 July 2008, apparently because he was suspected of supporting armed groups. He was held at a succession of US-run prisons and was at Camp Taji when he and the prison were transferred to Iraqi control. In mid-November he was transferred from prison to a police station in Tikrit, from where he was released on 30 December.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees were rife in Iraqi prisons, especially those controlled by the Ministries of Defence and Interior. Detainees were beaten with cables and hosepipes, suspended by their limbs for long periods, given electric shocks, had their limbs broken, were asphyxiated with plastic bags, and raped or threatened with rape. Torture was used to extract information from detainees and "confessions" that could be used as evidence against them in court. USF-I secret files published by the Wikileaks organization in October showed that US soldiers had many times reported evidence of torture by Iraqi security forces to their superiors up to the end of 2009; such reporting apparently did not prompt investigations.

  • In April, a secret detention facility was reported to have been uncovered at the former Muthanna airport in central Baghdad in which more than 400 detainees were being held, mostly Sunni Arabs who had been detained in Mosul in late 2009. The secret prison, most of whose inmates said they had been tortured, was reported to be controlled by the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The government released about 95 of the detainees and moved others to al-Rusafa Prison in Baghdad. It denied that the prison was secret but closed it down, arresting three officers of the military unit that had run it.

Deaths in custody

Several detainees died in custody possibly as a result of torture or other ill-treatment.