UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
URGES INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION
INTO DETENTION CONDITIONS IN IRAQ

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18 November 2005
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged an international investigation into conditions of detention in Iraq, saying the recent discovery in an Interior Ministry building of detainees who appeared to have been tortured pointed to widespread problems with the system of detention in the country.

“In announcing a probe into conditions of detention, the Government has acknowledged the problem”, High Commissioner Louise Arbour said. “But in light of the apparently systemic nature and magnitude of that problem, and the importance of public confidence in any inquiry, I urge the authorities to consider calling for an international inquiry”, she said.

“There is much international concern and interest in the situation in Iraq”, the High Commissioner continued. “An international element would help the authorities address the problems in the system of detention in an impartial and objective way. Such effective action to address these and other issues was key to fostering an environment of respect for human rights and, ultimately, to achieving national reconciliation”, she added.

“In addition to their treatment, the large number of detainees in the country is a matter of worry”, she said. Citing the latest report from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights Office and her own Office, Mrs. Arbour added that while progress in reviewing cases had led to the release of hundreds of detainees, the overall number continued to increase due to mass arrests carried out during security and military operations.

“There is an urgent need to provide remedy to lengthy internment for security reasons without adequate judicial oversight”, she said.

The High Commissioner said she was also concerned over reports from Mosul and other places that officials from the Ministry of Interior continue to hold in detention hundreds of individuals despite judicial orders for their release.