Skip to main content

Report: A decade after Hussein, Iraq still grapples with human rights abuses

By Holly Yan, CNN
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Mon March 11, 2013
Sectarian strife continues to plague the country, reports Amnesty International.
Sectarian strife continues to plague the country, reports Amnesty International.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Amnesty International says the torture of detainees and unfair trials plague Iraq
  • The group says detainees are tortured into confessing and sometimes sentenced to death
  • Reported methods of torture include shocks to the genitals, beatings and partial suffocation
  • Sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims also plagues the country

(CNN) -- Ten years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains "enmeshed in a grim cycle of human rights abuses," Amnesty International said in a report Monday.

"Many Iraqis today enjoy greater freedoms than they did under his Ba'athist regime, but the fundamental human rights gains that should have been achieved during the past decade have signally failed to materialize," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International.

Attacks on civilians, the torture of detainees and unfair trials permeate the country, Amnesty International said.

The report said government forces commit torture with impunity, especially against those arrested on suspicion of carrying out terrorism acts.

There was no immediate reaction from the Iraqi government.

Methods of torture

Methods of torture reported by detainees include electric shocks; including to the genitals; partial suffocation with a bag placed tightly over the head; beatings while suspended in contorted positions; and the deprivation of food, water and sleep, Amnesty said.

10 years later: Iraq's phantom WMD
Syrians refugees find stability in Iraq
Iraqi soldiers fire on protesters
A look back at Iraq anti-war protests

"Detainees have alleged that they were tortured to force them to 'confess' to serious crimes or to incriminate others while held in these conditions," the group said. "Many have repudiated their confessions at trial only to see the courts admit them as evidence of their guilt, without investigating their torture allegations, sentencing them to long term imprisonment or death."

129 hangings

Such death sentences contribute to one of the highest execution rates in the world, Amnesty said. Last year, 129 Iraqi prisoners were hanged.

"Death sentences and executions are being used on a horrendous scale," Sahraoui said. "It is particularly abhorrent that many prisoners have been sentenced to death after unfair trials and on the basis of confessions they say they were forced to make under torture."

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty worldwide.

Sectarian strife

Sectarian strife also continues to plague the country, where Shiite Muslims dominate the central government.

Thousands of demonstrators in Sunni-dominated areas have protested the arbitrary detention and abuse of detainees, Amnesty said. The protesters also denounced what they say is government discrimination against the Sunni population.

Sunni armed groups, meanwhile, continue to attack not only government targets but also Shiite civilians, including religious pilgrims, the group said.

Last month, Iraq's top judicial committee accused Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's security detail of carrying out 150 attacks against security forces and civilians between 2005 and 2011.

Al-Hashimi denied those allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq. The country has struggled to define itself, even after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011.

Violence has dropped dramatically But insurgent attacks against civilians and security forces persist.

Many areas are still smoldering with sectarian tension and political infighting.

CNN's Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:57 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT