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16/05/2003 *

Venerdì 16 Maggio 2003

Amnesty: Iraq PoWs Tortured by American-British Forces

palestinechronicle.com, http://www.palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030516175806313, 16/05/2003

Friday, May 16 2003 @ 05:58 PM EDT

Boumedouha, a researcher for the organization, said that the London-based human rights group had not yet presented the torture testimonies to the British and American authorities ..

LONDON - Two delegates from Amnesty International have returned from Iraq, citing testimonies that both civilians and soldiers, mostly detained in and around Basra, have been tortured by British and US troops.

Said Boumedouha said Friday that he had interviewed at least 20 former PoWs, who claimed they had been beaten, kicked and deprived of water while being interrogated. In one instance, a Saudi Arabian national said he received electric shock torture while in custody.

Senior director of International Law at Amnesty, Claudi Cordone, told IRNA that the UK and US, as joint occupying powers, were responsible for each other's actions.

It is Britain's obligation to ensure that humanitarian law is respected and should intervene if it is not, he said in relation to the UK military transferring all PoWs it captured to US custody.

Boumedouha, a researcher for the organization, said that the London-based human rights group had not yet presented the torture testimonies to the British and American authorities, but would provide a "full dossier" once the evidence was completed.

He estimated that about half of the 20 former PoWs interviewed so far were civilians and said that some had been arrested while hostilities were still going on, while others had been detained when the war had finished.

The two delegates, including media officer, Judit Arenas, were presenting their findings of Amnesty's ongoing mission to southern Iraq, which it hopes to expand to the rest of the country, at a briefing in London.

Boumedoha said that they had received "full cooperation" from the British authorities with regard to assistance on where they wanted to go, but said it was not the same with regard to the US, who were "denying access to PoWs to determine their treatment."

The priority concern for Iraqis was the need for security and not food and water, he said, adding that most of the residents of both Basra and Nasiriya felt that the British and Americans had not done enough.

Boumedoha said that people cannot venture out at night because there was so much shooting, that there were vigilante groups and carjacking and "revenge killings for political motives."

There were a lot of people really angry about the lack of security by the occupying forces, he said, putting the blame on the failure of planning and a shortage of troops.

As an example, the researcher said that Britain had "only 48 military police" working with unarmed Iraqi on the ground in Basra and had to cope with a population of 1.2 million in the city.

One of the major concerns currently facing the population, she believed, were the risks of unexploded ammunition, including landmines and an unguarded arms dump, posing dangers that needed to be urgently addressed.

-[Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).]

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