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X. Multinational Force advisers and reform efforts

In the context of the role of Multinational Force in contributing to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq, under the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1546,193 one of the responsibilities of the Multinational Force is to build the capability of Iraqi security forces, including the police.   This was envisaged through a program of recruitment, training, mentoring, and monitoring, involving the assistance of a network of both civilian and military international advisers working with the relevant Iraqi Ministries, in particular Defense, Interior, and Justice.  The United States government has taken the lead in designing, funding and supervising this program.  For the purposes of this report, Human Rights Watch spoke to six advisers assisting both the Ministries of Interior and Justice on issues relating to policing and detentions.  Two of them agreed to be identified in this report.

As of  this writing, the areas of responsibility of senior advisers working with the Ministry of Interior at the level of policing include the following: planning and business management; counter-terrorism and operations; the Major Crimes Directorate (related to crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, and money laundering); the Internal Affairs Directorate; intelligence; and highway patrol and traffic.  Below the senior police advisers is another layer of police advisers, some of whom work at the level of the detention facilities rather than the ministry itself.  Overseeing this network is the senior adviser to the Minister of Interior, covering policing and other matters.194

In addition to specialized training, details of which are not covered in this report, international advisers working with the Iraqi Interim Government devised two basic training programs for the Iraqi police, one for new recruits and another for members of the former Iraqi police force.  Both are run by the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT), commanded until late September 2004 by British Brigadier General Andrew Mackay.  The Iraq Basic Training Curriculum for new recruits, an eight-week program conducted at a purpose-built training academy in Jordan, consists of various lessons divided into eight blocks and totaling 320 hours.  Block 1 includes topics such as democratic policing principles, policing in a democratic society, human rights, and the prohibition against torture.195  Block 2 includes topics on international law basics, pre-trial police behavior and potential violations of human rights, police ethics and values, and international standards for police use of force.196  Block 3 includes such topics as interviewing victims, witnesses and suspects and taking statements, as well as patrol procedures and preliminary investigations.197  Each of these topics is allocated between two to four hours of the total curriculum.  Block 4 focuses on Iraqi criminal law and procedure (consisting of forty hours),198 while blocks 5-8 deal with firearms and other practical training.

Training for members of the former Iraqi police force, known as the Iraqi Police Transition Integration Program (IPTIP or TIP), consists of a three-week training program totaling 126 hours and run at the police academy in Baghdad.199  Covering in shortened form many of the topics covered in the training for new recruits, its stated aim is “to change the philosophy, behaviors, actions, and activities of all Iraqi police regardless of assignment,” through the introduction and improved acquisition of “human rights knowledge, democratic policing principles, modern policing techniques, applicable Iraqi criminal laws and procedures, laws of arrest and detention, and firearms proficiency.”200    

Brigadier General Mackay told Human Rights Watch that the training programs had undergone some changes “to reflect current needs, and therefore now contain more operational policing due to counter-insurgency,” but that the “core human rights content” had been retained as part of the curriculum.  He said that as of mid-September 2004, some 27,000-28,000 “former regime police officers” had been trained, together with 35,000-37,000 new recruits.  Although the size of the Iraqi police force at the time was estimated at 88,000, Brigadier General Mackay said that the “the difference between the two [some 23,000-26,000] are untrained from our perspective.”  A review of all police recruitment underway could result in making redundant 20,000-30,000 police officers previously recruited by the CPA and since deemed “unsuitable,” having failed “to subscribe to democratic or decent policing.”201  The Minister of Interior was said to be cooperating fully with the review.202

By mid-September 2004, the Multinational Force deployed 465 international police advisers, most from the United States, in thirty-seven locations across Iraq, with their numbers set to rise to 500 in the near future.  With regard to their role in the monitoring of possible abuse of detainees by police officers, Brigadier General Mackay told Human Rights Watch:

It is their job to enter police stations and advise and check on detainees.  They have discovered instances in police stations where detainees were clearly beaten up.  In such situations, they prepare a report, with photographs where possible, and present it to the police chief to determine why this is so.  I have not personally kept records of where this has happened.  These cases emerge depending on the reaction of the international police advisers where they feel strongly about it.  No one underestimates the difficulties we are facing, and the situation is exacerbated by a brutal insurgency campaign, which has to be beaten in order to bring stability to the country.  In this fight, the police are in the frontlines.203

Human Rights Watch believes that the system currently in place for the reporting of police abuses remains woefully inadequate and is given low priority, judging by the apparent lack of follow-up and even knowledge of such abuses.  Among the locations where international police advisers are deployed is the Major Crimes Directorate facility in al-‘Amiriyya, where many of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment of detainees received by Human Rights Watch emanated.  Brigadier General Mackay told Human Rights Watch that none of the international police advisers “had alerted me to any prisoner abuse” there.  Yet one of investigative judges at the Central Criminal Court, who visited the al-‘Amiriyya facility on a number of occasions, said he had fully apprised the chief police adviser there of the detainee abuse taking place, but that the adviser apparently took no action.204  With regard to torture allegations emanating from the Criminal Intelligence Directorate, Brigadier General Mackay said that to his knowledge, there were no advisers placed within the intelligence agencies.  Human Rights Watch also raised with him the issue of general conditions of detention in such facilities, giving as one of several examples the failure to provide food to the detainees, who were obliged to buy their own.  “I won’t deny that this is occurring.  Until we get proper security and stability to the country, we cannot tackle that issue,” he responded.205   

Two Iraqi police officials attached to the Major Crimes Directorate, to whom Human Rights Watch spoke on a confidential basis in August and September 2004, freely admitted that Iraqi police used torture to extract information from detainees under interrogation.  One said that until such time as adequate means for “normal criminal investigation” became available, including having a sufficient number of cells to hold suspects in the same case separately so that they did not concoct a story together, torture will continue to be used as the only sure means to obtain the necessary information from detainees.  He commented that the presence of international police advisers had not changed anything: “We were using these interrogation methods long before the Americans came, and we will continue to use them long after the Americans are gone.”206

The second official cited an additional factor which, in his view, led to the torture of detainees.  He told Human Rights Watch that investigating officers at the Major Crimes Directorate were too few for the number of cases each had to handle.  Within each of the directorate’s four main units, there were some ten police investigators, each of which had “at least twenty-five to thirty detainee cases to handle, in addition to a further 150 unregistered cases.”  As such, police investigators did not have the luxury to spend the amount of time involved in carrying out normal criminal investigation, and found it more time-efficient to beat the information out of the detainees.  The practice of extracting information under duress was also alluded to by Brigadier General Mackay: “I am aware that a lot of information is extracted through confessions, but it is difficult to assess how extensive that is.”207

The Ministry of Justice’s Iraqi Correctional Service (ICS – Da’irat al-Islah al-‘Iraqiyya) conducts a physical examination of detainees who are transferred to facilities under its control; this serves as a partial assessment of the extent to which Ministry of Interior agencies torture or abuse detainees before they are transferred. International advisers working with the ICS told Human Rights Watch that they have “uncovered instances where this has occurred.”  If authorities followed procedures, then “once defendants appear before the investigative judge, they must be turned over to the ICS immediately, but this does not happen.”208  Human Rights Watch’s own research similarly showed that defendants referred to the Central Criminal Court by the Ministry of Interior’s specialized agencies frequently remained under their jurisdiction after their appearance before an investigative judge, increasing their vulnerability to further abuse should they speak out before the judge about their treatment in detention.  Not infrequently, detainees who told Human Rights Watch they were tortured, and whose investigative hearings the organization attended, refrained from repeating the same allegations before the judge, even in cases where evidence of external trauma was still clearly visible.  According to one adviser, once such detainees are transferred to the ICS, they undergo a physical examination as a matter of procedure and a report is prepared, together with photographs where relevant, detailing any identifiable injuries they may have sustained prior to their arrival.  He told Human Rights Watch that the ICS then sends such reports to Ministry of Interior officials: “We don’t know what happens to these reports after that; it’s out of our hands.”209

David Hamilton, an international police adviser to the Ministry of Interior, said that part of the problem was the lack of effective monitoring of police behavior in the post-training phase:

The ministry says prisoners will not be tortured, but this is Iraq and it happens.  Human rights should be an integral part of the training, and new recruits do get human rights training, but only initially at the academy, without further follow-up or monitoring.  The problem is that once the new recruits are deployed to the police stations, the older ones tell them “forget what you’ve learned, this is how we do things here.”  You can’t simply say “don’t torture,” you have to provide an alternative, which includes training in good investigative skills.210

Hamilton told Human Rights Watch that in an effort to improve and increase the level of monitoring of police conduct and of detainee treatment, one of the ideas advisers were considering was to start “an independent lay visitors’ scheme.”  This would involve “a group of people selected to represent the community, who would carry out unannounced inspections of police stations, having permission to speak to the detainees and to assess conditions in custody.”  They would then report to the Ministry of Interior on their findings.  Other ideas that he said should be considered included setting up a legal aid system to improve detainees’ access to defense counsel, although he expressed some doubt as to whether “this government is prepared to pay for lawyers to defend dangerous criminals.”  Hamilton advocated an increased presence of international monitors at police stations.  He also stressed the necessity for a national policing plan that would encompass tackling issues such as police corruption in order to increase public confidence in the system; establishing a promotion system for the police that is both transparent and based on performance; and a selection system for training courses based on an assessment of what the candidates “could bring back to policing rather than who they knew.”211

Other international advisers working closely with the Ministry of Interior on policing and other matters sought to explain the difficulties of reorganizing, training, and equipping a police force, particularly under current security conditions in Iraq, difficulties which Human Rights Watch recognizes.  One of them told the organization:

We are trying to turn the Iraqi police into a Western style police force while at the same time trying not to raise people’s expectations too much.  They are neither properly trained nor equipped, and we have to contend with the negative way in which the police was regarded before the war.  Now the police are expected to be engaged in a guerilla war, something which would not be expected of them anywhere in the world.212

The adviser also referred to problems related to police recruitment and training inherited from the CPA by current advisers to the Ministry of Interior:  “We are trying to weed out the folks who are unsuitable, going for quality rather than quantity and with better vetting procedures.”  He confirmed that the Ministry of Interior was currently reviewing past police recruitment, and that in the course of the review, it discovered that some of the police recruited under the CPA were illiterate, while others had no basic policing skills.  “There was even an instance where the CPA hired an entire tribe,” he said, in order to get more police onto the streets.213  Another adviser with the ministry told Human Rights Watch that a four-person committee within the ministry, involving representatives of the police, Internal Affairs, finance and administration, has been holding “four-hour meetings three times a week for the last three months to set up the [review] system.”  The aim was to establish criteria for current police officers to “re-qualify” for their posts, taking into account factors as wide-ranging as physical fitness to allegations of corruption, as well as to define “the baseline for future recruitment.”  He said four international advisers were assisting the review committee in its work, but in “an advisory capacity only and without decision-making powers.”214

Both advisers stressed that the Ministry of Interior was taking the issue of police corruption seriously and making efforts to investigate all such allegations.215  They said the Internal Affairs Directorate, responsible for investigating police conduct and malpractice, had investigated some forty-two cases with the assistance of “two coalition mentors.”216  Human Rights Watch was told that these were “mostly corruption cases.”  When asked whether they had investigated any allegations of abuse of detainees by police officers, one adviser said he was not aware of such cases but would make enquiries.  During these discussions, the advisers assured the organization that both they and Ministry officials were making efforts to monitor police behavior, giving the example of the introduction of a thirty-point code of conduct introduced in late May or early June 2004, and which was “signed by some police officers.”217  They told Human Rights Watch that they would make the code of conduct available to it.  At this writing, they had provided the organization neither the code of conduct nor information regarding any detainee abuse investigations that may have taken place.

When Human Rights Watch gave examples of the instances of torture and ill-treatment it had recorded with regard to detainees held at the Major Crimes Directorate facility in al-‘Amiriyya, one adviser replied that international advisers at the detention facility “don’t meet with the detainees, and therefore don’t see any abuse.” Detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch confirmed the absence of direct contact between them and advisers.  When asked, none said they had had any such contact, which the organization believes raises questions about the effectiveness of the role of advisers aiming, according to their own statements, to bring law enforcement in Iraq up to standards that comply with international human rights protections.  The adviser told Human Rights Watch that the current focus is on “building the capability and effectiveness of the police, and we are increasing that now.”  In discussing the two cases of mass arrests highlighted in this report (the al-Bataween and the al-Kifah Street raids – see Section VII), he said:

What MOI is aiming to do is to make sure that they are able to pinpoint where these people [the suspects] live, and to avoid mass roundups.  We try to provide GPS coordinates for their homes.  But trying to collect evidence beforehand – this is still a luxury for us.  We will continue to press the MOI.218

When asked whether he was aware that the majority of the suspects police arrested in the al-Kifah Street and al-Bataween raids and referred to court were eventually released due to insufficient evidence, thereby calling into question the effectiveness of the police in these two instances, the adviser said he had not followed up on the cases after arrest and was not aware that that had been the outcome.  When asked about Ministry of Interior agencies – such as the Criminal Intelligence Directorate – acting outside their areas of competence by carrying out arrests, he said: “As far as I know, Criminal Intelligence has no arresting or detaining powers.”219

Perhaps more telling of the priority being given to portraying the Iraqi government as taking firm and decisive action on violent crime at the expense of protecting basic human rights and even effective policing are remarks made by the Ministry of Interior’s senior international adviser, Steven Casteel.  When interviewed on police operations for the Boston Globe in July 2004, he said:

There’s always a pendulum between freedom and security, and in Middle Eastern culture they’ve always allowed that pendulum to swing more towards security.  The Iraqi people are looking for this government to take a strong stance … Obviously, we support human rights.  And the Iraqi police understand they’re not supposed to do anything outside the Iraqi legal framework.  But that legal framework is not the US legal framework.220

The Boston Globe journalist also interviewed officials on the al-Bataween raid in which U.S. soldiers had intervened to stop the abuse of suspects by the Iraqi police:

Interior Ministry officials were outraged by what they saw as a violation of their sovereignty.  They called in Casteel, who said he spent three or four hours to smooth out the problem.  In the end, the MPs agreed that the Iraqis were in charge of the prisoners.  “Some soldiers think they’re still the occupation forces and behave that way,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sabah al-Anbaqi said.  But at the Interior Ministry, Brigadier General Hussein Ali Kamal said the incident built morale because Iraqi control had prevailed.221

For his part, Casteel cited the al-Bataween raid as “an example of US-Iraqi cooperation, in which US troops shared satellite images of the neighborhood and backed up the police with Humvees.”  Both he and an Iraqi police official said that:

Interior Ministry officials emphasized human rights and ethics as they prepared more than eighty agents to take part.  They brought twenty-five internal affairs police with them to monitor the operation.  Casteel said only one theft occurred of a case of beer and that the policeman who stole it is being disciplined.222

During the course of its research for this report, Human Rights Watch was hard pressed to find evidence suggesting that Iraqi officials had conducted serious investigations into the abuse of detainees by the police, taken adequate disciplinary action or criminal proceedings against those found guilty of such abuse, or appropriately conveyed that message to act as a deterrent for others.

[193] S/RES/1546 (2004).

[194] Since the transfer of sovereignty, Steven W. Casteel, a U.S. national and former Assistant Administrator for Intelligence with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, has held this post. 

[195] Other topics covered in Block 1 include the right to life, trafficking of persons, rights of children and juveniles, and freedom of assembly and association.

[196] Other topics covered in Block 2 include the right to liberty and security, gender issues, community policing, and policing in a multi-ethnic society,

[197] Other topics covered in Block 3 include women in law enforcement, domestic violence, report writing and mine awareness.

[198] This part of the curriculum covers an overview of the Iraqi criminal justice system, laws of arrest, search and seizure laws, role of the courts, and human rights.

[199] The length of the course was augmented from a shorter version covering 108 hours.

[200] “Iraqi Police Transition Integration Program (REVISED),” provided to Human Rights Watch by Brigadier General Andrew Mackay, commander of CPATT, September 19, 2004.  Brigadier General Mackay also made available documents pertaining to human rights issues used by trainers in some of lessons covered in the curriculum, and Human Rights Watch obtained similar documents on additional topics from other sources.

[201] See Gethin Chamberlaine, “Critics warn plan to sack 30,000 Iraqi police will create enemies”, The Scotsman, August 23, 2004.

[202] Human Rights Watch discussion with Brigadier General Andrew Mackay, CPATT, Baghdad, September 19, 2004.

[203] Ibid.

[204] Human Rights Watch discussion with an investigative judge [name withheld by Human Rights Watch], Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 22, 2004.

[205] Human Rights Watch discussion with Brigadier General Andrew Mackay, Baghdad, September 19, 2004.

[206] One reported incident where a Baghdad-based journalist said that he witnessed police abuse of criminal suspects exemplifies this attitude.  See Patrice Claude, “Les droits de l’homme, on n’obtinent rien avec ça!Le Monde, August 10, 2004.  In the article, one of the police officers on the scene is quoted as saying: “Les Américains nous expliquent qu’il faut respecter les droits de l’homme maintenant.  Mais on n’obtinent rien avec ça.  La bonne vieille méthode irakienne, ça, ça marche.” [The Americans tell us that we must now respect human rights.  But we don’t achieve anything by that.  The old and trusted Iraqi method, now that works].

[207] Human Rights Watch discussion with Brigadier General Andrew Mackay, Baghdad, September 19, 2004.

[208] Human Rights Watch discussion with advisers to the ICS [names withheld by Human Rights Watch], Baghdad, September 9, 2004.

[209] Ibid.

[210] Human Rights Watch discussion with David Hamilton, senior police adviser to the Ministry of Interior on planning and business management, Baghdad, September 7, 2004.  Hamilton said that scene-of-crime officer training was already taking place at thirty-five locations nationwide, including training in methods for gathering physical evidence for scientific analysis.  However, until such time as effective laboratory facilities become available, the usefulness of such training remains limited: “There are facilities available to police investigators for analysis of blood type but not subtype, and none for DNA analysis or fiber matching.”  An experiment was underway with a “model police station equipped to Western standards,” but for the time being this was only within the Green Zone, he added.

[211] Ibid.

[212] Human Rights Watch discussion with an adviser to the Ministry of Interior [name withheld by Human Rights Watch], Baghdad, September 21, 2004.

[213] Ibid.

[214] Human Rights Watch discussion with an adviser to the Ministry of Interior [name withheld by Human Rights Watch], Baghdad, September 21, 2004. 

[215] One example given was the introduction of “data sheets” to account for each individual officer, following the discovery that salaries were being paid to some 120,000 police whereas the actual number was in the range of 88,000-90,000.

[216] Human Rights Watch did not know the outcome of these investigations at this writing.

[217] The interior minister at the time was Samir al-Sumaida’i, who is currently Iraq’s representative at the United Nations in New York.

[218] Human Rights Watch discussion with an adviser to the Ministry of Interior, Baghdad, September 21, 2004.

[219] Ibid.

[220] Ann Barnard, “Iraqis to give security forces a freer hand, government stops short of martial law,”Boston Globe, July 4, 2004.

[221] Ibid.

[222] Ibid.

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