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VII. Arbitrary Arrest, torture and ill-treatment of criminal suspects
At the Central Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch spoke to fifty-four detainees who police officials had accused of a variety of serious crimes, including murder, abduction and kidnapping, money laundering, drug trafficking, weapon smuggling, and acts of terrorism. The vast majority were in court for the first time to have their statements taken down by a judicial investigator and have their first investigative hearing, having already been detained for several weeks, well beyond what is permissible under Iraqi law. Only in a handful of cases had they reached the trial stage. Human Rights Watch observed numerous investigative hearings and several trials in connection with such cases.100
At least twenty detainees seen by Human Rights Watch in the Major Crimes Room were blindfolded, and remained so until police led them before the investigative judges door, and removed the blindfolds. Police officials assigned to the court told Human Rights Watch that this was to prevent suspected members of criminal gangs from identifying the officers responsible for their arrest and to protect them from retaliatory attacks in the future. In two such cases, the detainees were allowed to remove the blindfolds prior to being interviewed by Human Rights Watch, provided they remained facing the wall. They said that the police had blindfolded them continuously since their arrest several days earlier.
The majority of the detainees to whom Human Rights Watch spoke said that torture and ill-treatment under interrogation was routine. Some also said that the police also used violence against them at the time of arrest. The accounts of their treatment at the hands of the police were consistent to a high degree. Typically, detainees reported being blindfolded with their hands tied behind their back while undergoing interrogation.101 They said their interrogators or guards kicked, slapped and punched them, and beat them all over the body using hosepipes, wooden sticks, iron rods, and cables. Some of them bore visible traces of external trauma to the head, neck, arms, legs, and back when examined by Human Rights Watch. These traces appeared consistent with their accounts of having been repeatedly beaten. Several bore fresh bruises and lacerations, while others had scarring that appeared recent. In some cases, detainees also reported that their interrogators had subjected them to electric shocks, most commonly by having electric wires attached to their ears or genitals.
One detainee who was tried on an abduction charge and acquitted showed Human Rights Watch his dislocated shoulder, consistent with his account of interrogators suspending him for prolonged periods from a door handle by his hands, which they tied together behind his back.102 Another detainee, one of five people brought to court on a murder charge, appeared unable to walk unassisted. Two of his co-defendants brought him to the door of the holding cell at the Central Criminal Court, where Human Rights Watch spoke to him. He said he had sustained a strong blow to the head while being held at al-Bayya police station following his arrest on August 13, 2003, affecting his central nervous system. He had lost partial use of his legs, and his speech was partially impaired. He said detaining officials took him to the Neurosurgical Center Hospital in the Bab al-Shaikh district of Baghdad on one occasion. He also showed Human Rights Watch a broken front tooth, which he said had resulted from a punch in the face.103
Human Rights Watch interviewed two of three detainees brought to the Central Criminal Court by personnel of the Directorate of Ministry Security and Welfare. All three appeared to be in poor physical condition. One of them, aged twenty-five, wore a white dishdasha [traditional long robe] soiled in a number of places with large red stains that appeared to be blood. His right eye had dark bruising around it, and there were contusions on his forehead. Also visible was a wound to the left side of his head, from which blood had flowed down the side and into his ear, and looked very recently dried. He told Human Rights Watch that the police had arrested him and the other two detainees the previous evening, August 17, in the vicinity of the Interior Ministry in the al-Shaab district, beaten him badly and brought him to court the following day.104 He was unaware of any charges against him.105 Human Rights Watch sought to attend his investigative hearing, but upon checking with the judges in court, none was aware of his case and said the case had not been assigned to them. Human Rights Watch subsequently tried to obtain further information on the defendant through Ministry of Interior officials assigned to the court, but none was provided and the organization was unable to establish what happened to him.
Human Rights Watch also was informed about, but did not interview, a detainee referred to the Central Criminal Court in the second week of October 2004. According to one of the courts investigative judges, the detainee was brought in a wheelchair, having suffered partial paralysis as a result of torture. Personnel of the Major Crimes Directorate held him, accusing him of having planted an explosive device at the headquarters of a political party, although that partys officials reportedly denied this. During interrogation, the detainee was hit on his spine with a metal pipe, damaging several of his vertebrae and causing the paralysis.106
The majority of detainees held in the custody of the Criminal Intelligence Directorate and the Major Crimes Directorate spoke of dire conditions of detention when interviewed by Human Rights Watch. In particular, they complained of severe overcrowding with no room to lie down to sleep at night. Some detainees said they took turns sleeping, while others said they sometimes slept while standing, as there was standing room only in the cell. Not surprisingly, under such conditions, hygiene was extremely poor as attested by the physical appearance of most detainees Human Rights Watch saw in court. Such detainees complained of lack of washing and toilet facilities, a constant and overpowering stench of urine in the cells, and lack of basic medical care, including for a range of skin afflictions such as lice. Another complaint was lack of food or water. Most detainees reported that police officials in charge of these detention facilities rarely provided food, which detainees had to buy themselves if they happened to be carrying cash when arrested and if police did not take this money from them upon searching them. Although the police did not allow any family visits in these facilities, they reportedly allowed family members who were able to find out where the detainees were being held to bring food to the facility, which detainees then sometimes shared with their cellmates.
Starting in late June 2004 the Iraqi Interim Government carried out several large-scale and high-profile raids on districts of Baghdad said to be strongholds of a number of organized criminal gangs. This report highlights two such raids conducted in late June and early July 2004 by Ministry of Interior personnel, with backup provided by Multinational Force personnel (see also Section X). Immediately after the raids, Ministry of Interior officials publicly claimed that they had broken up a number of criminal gangs as a result, and that they had carried out the arrests on the basis of good intelligence and weeks of surveillance of the targeted suspects. They invited selected international, local, and Arab journalists to photograph the detainees and observe them being interrogated, portraying the raid as a successful police operation.107 Local newspapers amply covered the raids in the ensuing days, creating the impression that the Iraqi authorities were making significant inroads in their fight against organized crime. In both examples detailed below, the police released the majority of the suspects within a day or two after the raids, though that received little press attention. Human Rights Watch followed the remaining cases through the court system, and found that in many of those, investigative judges ordered the suspects released because of insufficient evidence once they were brought before them. The police appear to have arrested a large number of them randomly during the operations, either because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or on the basis of unverified tip-offs from locals. By the time of the release of these detainees, the police had held them for weeks or months without bringing them to court, and in some cases certainly tortured or otherwise ill-treated them.
The al-Bataween arrests, June 27, 2004
On June 27, 2004, squads of the Ministry of Interiors Criminal Intelligence Directorate carried out widespread arrests in the neighborhood of al-Bataween in Baghdads al-Rusafa sector, located near the al-Sadoun district on the east bank of the Tigris River. The neighborhood is reputed to be frequented by alleged criminal groups involved in drug trafficking, in particular. Iraqi authorities said the raid was aimed at apprehending such gangs. According to official sources, 149 arrests were made, among them one woman and an unknown number of Arab nationals. Investigative judges at the Central Criminal Court told Human Rights Watch that the raid was conducted without warrants, apparently on the direct order of the Minister of Interior. The following day, local newspapers quoted Ministry officials as saying that the police raid broke up fifteen criminal gangs, some of which they said were involved in murder, abduction, robbery, drug trafficking, and prostitution. The arrests, according to Major General Hussain Ali Kamal, undersecretary for Criminal Intelligence Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, were conducted on the basis of information obtained through surveillance and the use of satellite imagery to monitor the movements of suspected criminal gangs.108 He said that specially selected forces from other agencies, including the Interior Ministrys Internal Affairs Directorate and SWAT teams, took part in the raid, with backup provided by U.S. Military Police forces.109
Criminal Intelligence personnel initially held the detainees at the Ministry of Interiors compound, located in the al-Shaab district of eastern Baghdad, close to the al-Shaab football stadium. According to accounts received by Human Rights Watch, they tortured and abused them at various stages of their detention, particularly during the first few days following their arrest, and deprived them of food and water for at least two days.
On June 29, the third day after the police carried out the arrests, U.S. soldiers from an Oregon Army National Guard unit on patrol in the area close to the Ministry of Interiors compound witnessed Iraqi police abusing the detainees and made a decision to intervene. It was the only known case in which U.S. forces intervened to stop detainee abuse following the official transfer of sovereignty from the CPA to the Iraqi Interim Government. One of the battalions scouts took photographs of the scene through his rifle scope, showing at least two dozen detainees sitting on the ground, with their hands tied behind their back and blindfolded. Several of them were semi-clad, bearing what appeared to be fresh welts and bruises on their backs and legs. One was thought to be aged fourteen (see Section VIII).110
The following is an extract from a written account made available to Human Rights Watch by Captain Jarrell Southall, a U.S. soldier serving with the Oregon Army National Guards 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, of what he witnessed on that day:111
As we entered the compound basically un-challenged I could see apparent prisoners bound by nylon ropes and rags. The prisoners were mostly all sitting, some writhing in pain as we approached the questioning or holding area. This holding area was completely outdoors and there was a desk with an IP [Iraqi Police] sitting by the desk overlooking this holding area. The prisoners tried to explain that they have had very little water and no food for three days. Many of these prisoners had bruises and cuts and belt or hose marks all over
We passed out water bottles to them and staged the prisoners near the back wall of this compound to relieve them from direct sunlight. At the same time CPT [Captain] Seth Morgulas, an Armor Officer, who is assigned as a company commander of a MP [Military Police] company, arrived and commenced to disarm and segregate the Iraqi Policemen.
According to Captain Southalls account, his battalion commander, Lt. Colonel Hendrickson, then asked to speak to the person in charge. One Iraqi official told him that there was no prisoner abuse and that everything was under control and they were trying to conduct about 150 investigations as soon as possible. Another Iraqi police official made sure to place blame for any misdoings to those who worked inside this facility. Whereas, he was only in charge of the outer security!:
All the while soldiers were applying aid to those prisoners who seemed that they would expire and started distributing water to those in need and carting the non-ambulatory patients away by stretcher. I witnessed prisoners who were barely able to walk and many of those wore soiled clothes.
Upon searching the premises, U.S. soldiers found some seventy-eight other detainees in a room measuring about 20 x 20 sq. feet. Captain Southall said most were Sudanese, arrested because they had no identification. According to his account:
When we entered the office space adjacent to the crowded room there were several men in civilian clothes sitting around a conference room table. There was a tightly bound and gagged prisoner crumpled at the foot of these men sitting around this conference table smoking cigarettes This room was heavily air-conditioned, which was a stark contrast to the rooms that contained prisoners. The IPs told me that these prisoners were all dangerous criminals and most were thieves, users of marijuana, and other types of bad people. No IPs there admitted to beating or abusing the prisoners. However, the abuse and neglect was quite apparent. As we traveled from room to room prisoners were bound, blinded, and gagged. Many had terrible bruises and burns. One room contained hoses, broken lamps (electric shock), and chemicals of some variety.112
Accounts by other U.S. soldiers who were present at the Ministry of Interior compound at the time have since been made public. They included that of Staff Sergeant Kevin Maries who, according to The Oregonian:
reported that one prisoner lying facedown on the ground was struck repeatedly on the back with a rubber hose. Later, Marines watched another extended beating of a prisoner and took pictures through his spotting scope. A uniformed Iraqi policeman and civilian delivered a beating that was more vicious and prolonged than previously observed, Maries statement said. At one point, the prisoners bare feet were tied to a bar and elevated, and the guards beat his bare feet with a rubber hose.113
According to press reports based on interviews with several of the U.S. soldiers on the scene, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Hendrickson, the battalion commander, then radioed up the chain of command in the Armys 1st Cavalry Division, relaying what he had seen and asking for instructions It wasnt long before the order came: Stand Down. Return the prisoners to the Iraqi authorities and leave the detention yard.114 It was unclear whether the order came from the division or elsewhere within the U.S. Armys Central Command or that of the Multinational Force (see Section X). Commenting on the incident some two months later, General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was reported as saying it is critically important to our success in Iraq that we reinforce, whenever possible, the authority and responsibility of the Iraqi government to handle its internal affairs.115 At the time, some of the local newspapers portrayed the incident as an attempt by U.S. forces to secure the release of criminal gangs.116
Ministry of Interior officials released an estimated eighty of the detainees within days of their arrest. They continued to hold the remaining sixty-nine detainees for at least two months without bringing them before an investigative judge, and denied them access to legal counsel and to family members until their move to the Transfer Prison.117 Human Rights Watch saw the relatives of several of the detainees who came to the court regularly in the hope that the detainees would be brought before a judge, and were invariably disappointed. On August 23, the wife of one such detainee told Human Rights Watch:
They arrested my husband in an overnight car park at around eleven oclock on the morning of 27 June. Until now, he has not been brought before the judge. About twelve or thirteen days after his arrest, he was transferred to the Tasfirat [Transfer Prison]. At first I didnt know where he had been taken, but then through someone in the police I found out he was being held by Criminal Intelligence. That was about three or four days after his arrest. I tried to see him, but they wouldnt let me. Now I can visit him once a week, on Sundays which are the visiting days for women. He told me he had been beaten while held by Criminal Intelligence. One of his fingers was broken, and he had been beaten on his right leg with an iron rod. They wanted him to confess to one of his relatives involvement in a crime. 118
At the beginning of September 2004, one of the employees of the Transfer Prison responsible for escorting detainees to the Central Criminal Court told Human Rights Watch that sixty-one detainees from the al-Bataween group were still being held there and had not been summoned before an investigative judge. By September 15, on the basis of information provided by several of the judges, Human Rights Watch was able to account for forty-one of them: eight were released for lack of evidence, twenty-eight were released on bail, and in five other cases there was sufficient evidence to authorize their continued detention on abduction charges.119 In the third week of October 2004, Human Rights Watch interviewed four detainees from the al-Bataween group that were still being held. They had been brought to court for the first time since their arrest almost four months earlier, and were facing charges related to possession of drugs. Three of them were brothers originally from the city of al-Kut but were living in Baghdad doing casual labor. One of them, Hassan Ghadhban Tuma, aged forty, was working in a bakery at the time. He told Human Rights Watch:
I was in the bakery, and my brothers were selling fruit outside. A large group of police arrived, some of them in civilian clothes, and others in police or military uniform. Some of them also wore masks. It was sometime between 11:30 and noon. They took everyone who was in the bakery and those who were working on the street. Altogether they arrested about 160 people, and took us to the [Criminal] Intelligence headquarters. We were blindfolded, and our hands were tied behind our backs. They began hitting us right away, and this lasted into the night. During the first three days, there was continuous torture. I was beaten with an aluminum rod and with cables. They also tortured me with falaqa. Then I was told to sign a statement with my hands tied behind my back, so I didnt even see the paper and I dont know what I signed. On the third day, the Americans came. They took us out of the cells and gave us water and treated us for the injuries caused by the torture. They also punished the [Iraqi] officials by disarming them, taking them outside under the sun and confronting them sharply about their behavior towards us.120
The eldest of the three brothers, Jaber, aged forty-six, told Human Rights Watch that the police forced him to crouch down with his knees and forehead touching the ground and tied his hands behind his back, and that he remained in this position almost continuously for four days.121 The youngest, Jassem, aged thirty-two, said that they gave us no food or water for three days except for an onion and a tomato, and if it had not been for the intervention of the Americans, we would have been finished. He added that on the following day, the Americans returned. We didnt see them but could see the tops of their vehicles through the window of our cell. But they did not intervene again.122 All three remained in the custody of Criminal Intelligence for fifteen days before their move to the Transfer Prison. During that time, their families were unable to gain access to them. The three brothers confirmed that on the second day, Criminal Intelligence personnel had released a large group among them, most of whom were elderly. They saw no female detainees among those arrested, but said three of the males were children. At the Transfer Prison, they were able to engage a lawyer, who was in court representing them on the day Human Rights Watch met them. When asked about other detainees arrested in the same raid, they said that upon moving them to the Transfer Prison, the police divided the al-Bataween group into three groups, denoted by A, B and C. The three brothers belonged to group C, but only four of them had come to court that day. The police had already released all of those in group B, they said.
The fourth detainee in this group interviewed by Human Rights Watch that day was a Sudanese national living and working in Iraq since 1988. Ubaid al-Sayyid Makki Muhammad, aged forty-four, said that on the day police arrested him, he was selling secondhand clothes off a street stall, and had just gone into a coffee shop when the police arrived:
The police came into the coffee shop and told everyone to put their hands up and face the wall. Then they tied our hands behind our backs with rope and blindfolded us with pieces of cloth, and told us to walk towards the vehicles while crouching At the Ministry of Interior, they began interrogating us individually. I was the second person called for interrogation, and they beat me and tortured me while still blindfolded and with my hands tied. They hit me with cables and with metals rods, though I could not be absolutely sure since I couldnt see. The torture lasted about half an hour, and there were several of them hitting me at the same time, about five of them. Then they ordered me to put my fingerprint on a piece of paper, or sign it, with my hands tied and while blindfolded They only gave us water and food on the third day. Each person got a small piece of bread with a tomato, and even then they kept us blindfolded and our hands tied, and fed us themselves. When the Americans arrived, they untied our hands and removed the blindfolds, and took a group of the detainees outside and gave them food and water. They also moved other detainees who had been kept outside under the sun to a shady area, and gave us medical treatment.123
Ubaid told Human Rights Watch that that was the only time police had interrogated him during the four months he spent in detention. He said they kept him at the Criminal Intelligence facility for thirteen days and then took him to the Transfer Prison, where they were holding a total of sixty-one detainees from the al-Bataween group. He said the police divided them into groups and distributed them among the various cells that already housed fifty-five detainees each. He described conditions there as better, with food and water provided to inmates and with family visits allowed. In court, the same lawyer engaged by the three Tuma brothers represented him, also on the same charge of possession of drugs. Human Rights Watch attended the investigative hearing of the four detainees on October 23. The judge adjourned the hearing for several days to give him more time to study their files.
Ubaid estimated that as of the third week of October, the police continued to hold some forty detainees from the al-Bataween group at the Transfer Prison, having released the rest at different times. Among those still held were nine Sudanese nationals, he added. A defense lawyer representing several of the al-Bataween suspects told Human Rights Watch that some twenty of them faced drug-related charges.
The al-Kifah Street arrests, July 11, 2004
In a raid similar to that conducted on the al-Bataween neighborhood, forces of the Ministry of Interiors Criminal Intelligence Directorate carried out widespread arrests on July 11, 2004, in the al-Kifah Street neighborhood located near al-Andalus Square in the Bab al-Shaikh district of Baghdad. Other arrests were also conducted in the neighboring areas of al-Fadhl, al-Sadriyya and al-Siba. Iraqi police arrested 527 people, said by officials to comprise members of criminal gangs involved in serious crimes.
As in the al-Bataween case, Ministry of Interior officials announced that the sweeps on al-Kifah and neighboring districts had resulted in the breakup of sixteen criminal gangs involved in a variety of criminal activity, including murder, robbery, abduction, and drug trafficking. The local press quoted the Ministrys undersecretary for Criminal Intelligence Affairs, Major General Hussain Ali Kamal, as saying that the arrests were carried out in cooperation with the judicial authorities to provide the legal framework for the arrest and interrogation of the suspects.124 Human Rights Watch later learned from the judicial authorities that the police carried out the arrests without recourse to the courts and that judges had not issued any arrest warrants. Rather, the order was understood to have come directly from the minister of interior. Furthermore, the police denied the detainees access to family members or defense counsel for at least two weeks following their arrest.
Criminal Intelligence personnel reportedly released over 400 of them later the same day, while continuing to hold 118, some for over seven weeks, before bringing them before an investigative judge. It was unclear on what basis they took the decision to immediately release some of them and detain others. At the Central Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch spoke to seventeen of the detainees arrested in the raid and who were among those brought before investigative judges during August 2004. One of them, Muhammad Fateh Nameq, a thirty-year-old employee of a car windscreen repair shop, said:
We were arrested at around six oclock in the evening. A police patrol came, and they forced us into pickup trucks and took us to the Ministry of Interior. When we arrived at the compound, they divided us into two groups. The bigger group was released almost immediately, and the rest of us were kept there. We were still not blindfolded at that point, and I saw five or six masked informers who came and gave information to the police about some of those in my group. They pointed to several people who they said were involved in abductions, and they were taken upstairs to a different place, and the rest of us were put in a large hall where they registered our names.125
Muhammad said Criminal Intelligence personnel held him there for two weeks, during which time they frequently and individually interrogated him and the others about a variety of crimes, including abductions and robberies. He said they beat him during interrogation, particularly on his back and chest. Another detainee who was with him in court, Arkan Rahim Lafta, a taxi driver aged twenty-seven, told Human Rights Watch that interrogators slapped, kicked and punched him, and beat him all over the body with a wooden stick.126 Both were then transferred to al-Kadhimiyya police station, where they were held for a further two weeks before being brought to court. They said detaining officials did not allow them family visits either at the Criminal Intelligence facility or at the police station.
Three other detainees arrested in the al-Kifah Street raid but only brought to court on August 21, six weeks after their arrest, gave similar accounts to Human Rights Watch. They included Saad Hassun Kadhim, a twenty-nine-year-old man from al-Najaf who was working in a bakery in Baghdad at the time:
I was inside the bakery when the police arrived, at about 7:15 in the evening. They searched me and two others and then took us to Criminal Intelligence. I stayed there seventeen days. We were put in a hall together with others from the al-Kifah group. One of them was a young boy aged fourteen or fifteen. A smaller group of those arrested were taken up to the seventh floor [in the main Ministry building], where I heard that twenty-five people arrested in the al-Bataween raid were also being kept. We were not given any food and had to buy it ourselves. We were not allowed any family visits there. Even now, after my transfer to al-Khadra police station, I have no visits and my family does not know where I am. To tell the truth, I was beaten by the officer during interrogation. In the end I was made to sign a paper, but I dont know what it said because I was blindfolded at the time. One person held with us, called Hazem Hamid, who is about twenty-seven years old and had a tattoo on his forehead, was badly beaten and tortured with electricity.127
Saad told Human Rights Watch that the reason Criminal Intelligence personnel transferred the detainees to the various police station was because there had been a mortar attack against the Ministry of Interior building. He added that at the al-Khadra police station, where he was held in a cell with thirty-two others, the police forced detainees to buy their own food, and did not permit him and some of the others any family visits. Two other detainees, a twenty-six-year-old employee of the Ministry of Oil and an eighteen-year-old blacksmith, who were transferred to the Baghdad al-Jadida police station described similar treatment while held by Criminal Intelligence, including being beaten and signing statements under duress.128
The accounts given by these four detainees were consistent with those of others interviewed by Human Rights Watch in connection with the al-Kifah Street arrests. Most appear to have been held on average for two weeks at the Criminal Intelligence facility in the Ministry of Interior compound before being transferred to various police stations across Baghdad. Several of the detainees interviewed also told Human Rights Watch that Criminal Intelligence continued to hold forty-eight of those arrested in the raid on July 11, beyond the initial two weeks, and that they were still there as of early August 2004, but the organization could not independently verify this. Those transferred to police stations described conditions of detention there as generally better, including being allowed family visits in most cases, and not being ill-treated. Several told Human Rights Watch that interrogators had not tortured them at the Criminal Intelligence facility because there was no evidence against us. Others, however, said they had been beaten and otherwise ill-treated to force them into confessing to various crimes, including robberies.
Human Rights Watch attended several of the hearings and spoke to the judges about the evidence gathered by the police. The judges concurred, saying that with the exception of a handful of cases, there was very little of substance to justify an extension of their detention and that they had no choice but to order the release of the detainees. At one session observed in mid-August, for example, an investigative judge released sixteen detainees after questioning them for only a few minutes, saying that there was nothing in their files.129 Human Rights Watch had spoken to five of these detainees before the hearing. Criminal Intelligence had held them for sixteen days before transferring them to the al-Rashad police station. They said they were not aware of what the charges against them were, and had been held for forty-one days before seeing a judge. In another case, a detainee brought to court on August 30 2004 told Human Rights Watch that Criminal Intelligence held him for fifteen days before his transfer to the al-Dora police station. He had been detained for a total of fifty days before seeing an investigative judge.130 Like many of his co-defendants, the judge ordered him released that day for lack of evidence.
Investigative judges ordered the release of the majority of the detainees arrested in connection with the al-Kifah Street raid and referred to the Central Criminal Court. They told Human Rights Watch in mid-September 2004 that although cases were still being processed through the court, only in ten cases did the available evidence against them warrant an extension of their detention period to allow for the completion of the criminal investigations.
Human Rights Watch also interviewed thirty-three detainees arrested outside the context of mass roundups, on suspicion of involvement in a variety of crimes including abduction, murder, and money laundering. Most had been referred to the Central Criminal Court by the Major Crimes Directorate, Criminal Intelligence Directorate, and the Directorate of Ministry Security and Welfare. The majority were in court for the first time for questioning by an investigative judge, but in a small number their cases had reached the trial stage. Their accounts of their treatment at the hands of their interrogators, and of conditions of detention generally, were highly consistent. In several of the cases, the detainees bore visible injuries that appeared recent and consistent with their description of the treatment they said they had suffered in detention.
Only in six cases examined by Human Rights Watch at the Central Criminal Court had detaining officials brought the defendants before an investigative judge within twenty-four hours of their arrest. Typically detainees were held for periods ranging from one to eight weeks.131 In the majority of cases, the detainees had no access to defense counsel before being brought to court, and were represented by court-appointed lawyers who lacked any knowledge of their clients cases and had no prior access to the evidence against them. Below are details of six cases where Human Rights Watch interviewed the defendants or attended their investigative hearings, or both:
Tahsin Khalil Ibrahim: aged thirty-three from the al-Waset governorate, living in Baghdad. The police arrested him on August 5, 2004, at his home in the Hay al-Hussain area in the al-Rusafa sector the city, accusing him of facilitating the commission of an abduction that took place one month earlier. They held and interrogated him at the Major Crimes Directorate for five days before his referral to the Central Criminal Court. One of the many detainees who said police had attempted to extort money from him in exchange for his release, he told Human Rights Watch:
Our house was raided by a squad of people wearing civilian clothes and carrying police badges. It was about seven oclock in the morning. They took my identity card and took me to the Major Crimes [Directorate]. They tied my hands in the car and then blindfolded me for about five hours after we got to the prison. I was beaten during interrogation and tortured with electric shocks. I kept asking the officer to tell me what the charge against me was so I could answer him, but he said I was not allowed to speak, and the torture just continued. In the interrogation sessions, there was one chief officer and one or two others who were beating me. Sometimes this would last for five hours continuously, usually at night. I heard that there were Americans at the prison but I never saw any of them. I was held in a room measuring four by five square meters, and today there were fifty-eight of us in there. We were not allowed family visits or to contact a lawyer. I was asked to pay two million dinars in return for my release, but I dont have that kind of money. Others were also asked for money in return for their release, particularly those who are involved in abductions who are asked to pay $10,000.132
Firas Imad Sadeq al-Dulaimi: age unknown, living in the al-Shaab district of Baghdad, one of three detainees referred to the Central Criminal Court on August 18, 2004, accused of involvement in several crimes involving theft, abduction, and murder. Criminal Intelligence Directorate personnel arrested him on June 23, 2004, and held him for eight weeks before his referral to an investigative judge. When Human Rights Watch saw him on August 18, Firas was in poor physical condition: he was limping as a result of an apparent injury to his left foot, his left arm was in a makeshift sling, and on the outer side of his upper left arm there were clear and reddish lacerations which appeared very recent. He appeared to have difficulty in focusing and to be in obvious pain.
Upon questioning during his investigative hearing, which Human Rights Watch attended, Firas admitted to involvement in the abduction of two individuals for which a ransom of 1,150,000 Iraqi dinars was demanded and obtained. He denied other charges leveled against him. When asked about his injuries, he told the judge that he had sustained the injuries to his left arm (broken bones and a wound on the upper arm) when his car overturned as he was being chased by police on the day of his arrest. He said that while in detention, he received no medical treatment for his broken arm, and that police beat him with a wooden stick on the wound sustained to his upper left arm while interrogating him. Additionally, he said they had beaten him on his left foot where he had had an operation in the past, causing him to limp from the pain.
The investigative judge hearing the case ordered that Firas be referred for medical examination to verify the torture allegations he had made. At the Medico-Legal Institute, where such referrals are usually made, Human Rights Watch found no records indicating that detaining officials had implemented the judges referral order in the four weeks following Firass appearance in court on August 18.
Khalid Muhammad Atiyya Abbas al-Budairi: a thirty-six-year-old father of two from Baghdad who was accused of having stolen a large amount of money from the Central Bank of Iraq following the fall of the Saddam Hussein government. He told Human Rights Watch that he had been arrested three times on the same charge, and was held in U.S. custody on one of those occasions. His last arrest took place on August 20, 2004, when police held him at the Major Crimes Directorate in al-Rusafa. He told Human Rights Watch:
I was arrested on the basis of information from a secret informant. They took me at lunchtime, just before noon prayers, from a car park in the al-Iskan district. There were eight of them, dressed in plainclothes and driving two civilian cars. They tied my hands and blindfolded me, and pointed a weapon at me to force me to get into the car. Once we arrived at the Major Crimes [Directorate], I was hit hard across my back without even being asked a single question. Then I was put in a small room with over fifty people in it. It was so crowded that it was difficult to breathe. Later that afternoon, I was taken to another room where Captain [name withheld] accused me of having stolen from the bank 1,300,000,000 dinars. I replied that if I had that kind of money I wouldnt have stayed in Iraq. He left the room, and suddenly I was being beaten from all directions. They used a metal pipe on my back and the marks are still there
They left my hands bound with metal handcuffs for two days. Then they took me to another room where there were about seventy-five or eighty detainees. There was no room even to squat. Everyone seemed to have lice. On the third day, I was interrogated again. This time they untied my hands and removed the blindfolds. The captain said, We have intelligence on you, but if you dont talk we wont let you go. He threatened me with electric shocks, and said he would bring my parents and torture them in front of me. So I was obliged to agree, and signed a statement confessing to having stolen a lesser amount of 350 million dinars.133
Khalid also told Human Rights Watch that police had arrested his two brothers, Raed, aged thirty, and Raad, aged twenty-six, five months earlier in the same bank theft case. Police tortured both while they were held at the Balat al-Shuhada police station, which he said he learned about after their mother visited them there. Human Rights Watch independently interviewed Raed some six weeks later during a visit to al-Karrada Criminal Court (see Appendix, Case D).
Muhammad Hassan al-Sayyid Mulla Hassan: a forty-one-year-old Kurd from Sulaimaniyya who was arrested on August 20 or 21, 2004, by personnel of the Directorate of Ministry Security and Welfare. He was among seven people arrested in a raid on a hotel in the al-Bataween district of Baghdad, five of them guests and the other two employees. He told Human Rights Watch when referred to court one week later that he had come down to Baghdad from Sulaimaniyya for an operation on his leg, and which he had not yet undergone when he was arrested. According to his account:
There were a large number of them, dressed in civilian clothes and armed. It was about ten oclock in the evening. I was in my room at the time, and they took me as well as a friend of mine. They blindfolded me and didnt give a reason for the arrest. I dont know where they took me, and I remained blindfolded for three days and without questioning. When they interrogated me, they asked about a booby-trapped car that they accused me of having brought from al-Falluja to Baghdad. I said I didnt know anything about it. During interrogation, I was blindfolded the whole time, and in the end I was made to sign a paper while blindfolded also. I was beaten with cables and hoses on my back and legs. The same thing happened to my friend Haidar. They told us before we came to court that if we didnt confess before the investigative judge, we would get the same treatment when we returned to the cell. We had no family visits and no possibility of contacting a lawyer.134
Human Rights Watch also spoke to the two hotel employees arrested in the same raid, one of whom worked as a receptionist and the other as a cleaner.135 They gave similar accounts of the raid and their subsequent detention. When Human Rights Watch saw the group in court, several of them were half-dressed, some only in trousers and others with under-vests but no shirts. One of those who wore a shirt lent it to the others in turn when they appeared before the investigative judge. They explained to him that upon arrest, the police did not give them the chance to get dressed and arrested them in whatever clothes they happened to be wearing at that moment.
At the end of the investigative hearing, which Human Rights Watch attended, the judge renewed their period of detention for two days to enable him to question the secret informant on the basis of whose information the arrests were carried out. An official of the Directorate of Ministry Security and Welfare, who had accompanied the defendants to court, requested that they be transferred to the custody of the Major Crimes Directorate pending their next court appearance. He told the judge, while Human Rights Watch was present, that there was no room to continue holding them at the Ministry and that the Directorates personnel were keeping the defendants in an officers room. The judge questioned the secret informant the following day, August 29, after which he ordered the release of the seven defendants for lack of evidence.
Saif Saad Ilyas: a thirty-one-year-old Iraqi man living in the United Arab Emirates who was visiting Baghdad when he was arrested on February 5, 2004. He told Human Rights Watch he was at home in the al-Alwiyya district of the city when police arrived:
They began hitting me as they searched the house, but they didnt find anything. Then they took me to a branch of the al-Rashid Bank, where I later understood there was a secret informant. I was accused of having stolen money from the bank during the events [the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in April 2003]. But I was in Diyala at that time. I was taken to the Baghdad al-Jadida police station, where I stayed for eight days. They slapped and punched me and beat me with wooden sticks while blindfolded. Then I was transferred to the Major Crimes [Directorate], where I got the same treatment. They blindfolded me and tied my hands, and hit me with sticks and metal rods to make me confess to the theft. I stayed there for over a month and was then taken to al-Alwiyya police station, then to the Tasfirat [Transfer Prison] for three months. After that I spent two months in Abu Ghraib, then back to the Tasfirat. So far, my father has paid the police twenty to twenty-five waraqa [U.S. $2,000-2,500] in exchange for my release, but they still havent let me go. They are asking for three dafater [U.S. $30,000].136
After his court appearance on September 18, 2004, Saif returned to the Major Crimes Directorate. Police officials told Human Rights Watch the Money Laundering Unit at the Directorate wanted him for further questioning.
Yasser Abdul-Hamid Abdul-Razzaq, Ammar Abdul-Hamid Abdul-Razzaq, and Faruq Karim Muhyi Zamel: two brothers and their maternal uncle who were arrested in late January and early February 2004, and held at the Major Crimes Directorate facility in al-Amiriyya. Interrogators questioned them about several crimes involving robbery and abduction. Human Rights Watch interviewed them in early September 2004 at the al-Karrada criminal court, where police had brought them in as witnesses in another case. The uncle, Faruq Karim Muhyi Zamel, aged 39, told Human Rights Watch that he was arrested with one of his nephews, Ammar, on February 4, 2004:
During interrogation, they hit me with their fists and kicked me. I was tortured with electric shocks to my ears and genitals. They also beat me with plastic bottles filled with water, which was very painful, particularly on an area on my left arm where I had had an operation in the past to correct a deformity. As a result, my arm swelled and the wound became infected, but I did not receive any medical treatment for that. The interrogation continued for four days continuously, with beatings and torture. On 23 February the investigative judge [at the Central Criminal Court] issued an order to send me to the Medico-Legal [Institute] after my nephew Yasser told him about how they were torturing me. But I was never sent there. Instead, they tortured me again, and on 12 March I was transferred to the Tasfirat [Transfer Prison] in al-Rusafa. No one tortured or threatened us there, but we are still there and only came to court today as witnesses in another case.137
Faruqs nephew Yasser, aged thirty-one, told Human Rights Watch that police had arrested him eight days before the arrest of his uncle and brother, on January 27, 2004. According to his account, he had gone to al-Sadoun police station to answer charges brought against him by a police officer there, and was taken into custody. He believed the real reason for his arrest was that he had testified against one of the police officers in a corruption case involving extortion of money from detainees in exchange for release, and that the officer in question had then brought trumped up charges against him:
On the first day and a half they beat me during interrogation, especially with falaqa. I was blindfolded, and my hands were tied behind my back, and three of them kicked me all over the body. They also used electricity by attaching wires to my ears. On seven occasions various people were brought to the police station to see whether they could identify me in connection with various robberies and abductions, but none of them did. On 29 January they referred me to the judicial investigator, and in mid-February I was transferred to the Major Crimes [Directorate]. On 23 February I was brought before the investigative judge. I told him that my uncle Faruq was being tortured, and others too. The judge ordered that my uncle be referred to the Medico-Legal [Institute]. He summoned the police liaison officer at the court and gave him the written order, and told him, if he failed to obey the order he would have him arrested. After the hearing, I returned to the Major Crimes [Directorate]. They didnt touch me, but they took Faruq and tortured him once more with falaqa and electricity for six days. They asked him why he had complained, through me, about being tortured, and that if he did so again, they would bring other charges against him. Anyway, they never took him for the medical examination. The only reason they treated us in that way was because we had no money, but they took lots of money from others who were then released.138
On March 12, Faruq and his two nephews were moved to the Transfer Prison in al-Rusafa, where they remained until May. They were then transferred to Abu Ghraib Prison for some forty days, and returned to the Transfer Prison in early June 2004. When Human Rights Watch interviewed them, all three had already spent nearly eight months in pre-trial detention.
During several of the trials observed by Human Rights Watch involving serious criminal offenses, the defendants told the panel of judges that the police had tortured them during interrogation. The ICCPR provides that a defendant may not be compelled to confess guilt.139 The Human Rights Committee has ruled that the burden of proof is on the state to provide that a confession has been detained without duress.140 In the following three cases, it is not clear whether the judges based their verdicts on confessions allegedly gathered through torture.
In a trial held on July 31, 2004, three defendants accused of theft each said they had been beaten and otherwise tortured since their arrest on September 28, 2003. One of them told the judge that the interrogating officer had dictated the confession to him. He also said he had sustained a bullet wound to his left leg during arrest, for which he received no timely medical treatment, resulting in the subsequent amputation of the limb below the knee. The three defendants in this case were also among seven defendants accused in another case involving the abduction of a seven-year-old girl for ransom. Their trial also took place on the same day. During deliberations, Human Rights Watch interviewed the seven defendants. All said interrogators of the Major Crimes Directorate had tortured them while holding them for some three weeks after their arrest in September 2003. The methods cited included suspension from door handles for prolonged periods with the hands tied behind the back; electric shocks applied to the earlobes; extraction of finger and toe nails; and severe beatings using wooden sticks, cables and belts.141
Although the defendants showed Human Rights Watch scar tissue on various parts of their bodies, which they said they had sustained under torture, ten months had elapsed since the alleged abuse had taken place. There were no medical reports attesting to the nature of the injuries they described, suggesting that they had either not made statements to that effect when first brought before an investigating judge, or that no decision had been taken to refer them for medical examination. In the first trial, the judge sentenced each defendant to six years imprisonment.142 In the second trial, he sentenced six of the defendants to life imprisonment and acquitted the seventh for lack of evidence.143
In a separate case, Human Rights Watch interviewed two defendants on trial on August 1, 2004 for an armed robbery committed on November 15, 2003. Both told the panel of judges that the police had tortured them to extract confessions while holding them at the Major Crimes Directorate. Sabah Ali Hammadi, one of the defendants, told Human Rights Watch:
They tortured me by putting wires to my genitals and electrocuting me to force me to confess. I was also beaten on my left ankle, where I had had a platinum rod inserted during an operation in the past. They hit me there with cables and wooden sticks, which caused enormous pain. My hands were tied behind my back by the wrists and I was suspended for a long period of time, causing dislocation in one of my shoulder joints. They tried to force me to sit on a broken bottle neck but I didnt do it. We were held in a communal cell, about 170 detainees all packed together. We could not contact a lawyer, and we had no family visits. The torture usually took place after five oclock in the afternoon, when the Americans left. They blindfolded us and took us in a vehicle to a nearby building a few minutes drive away, usually at night, for interrogation and torture. I stayed at the Major Crimes Directorate for two months until my transfer to Abu Ghraib in mid-January 2004.144
His co-defendant, Issa Abbud Sardar, gave Human Rights Watch a similar account of his treatment in detention. He said his interrogators usually tortured him while blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back, and that on one occasion they interrogated him for seven hours at a stretch. Upon transfer to Abu Ghraib, he said conditions improved: Our treatment by the Americans was much better. While there, I needed an appendix operation, and they arranged it for me. If it had been the Iraqis, they would not have done it. Treatment by the Iraqis is terrible. Saddam is still here with us.145 As in the cases of other defendants whose trials Human Rights Watch observed, the chief judge informed them that any torture allegations would need to be backed up by medical reports. There were none in this case, and taking into account the available evidence against them, the court sentenced each defendant to eight years imprisonment.146
 Detaining officials brought some of the defendants to court from the Transfer Prison in al-Rusafa. Others had come directly from police stations in the Baghdad area, and the rest from facilities under the authority of the Major Crimes Directorate or the Criminal Intelligence Directorate. Upon arrival in court, they initially kept the defendants in holding cells and then brought them up to what was known as the Major Crimes Room, where they awaited their turn before the judge. Having obtained authorization from judicial officials to speak to the detainees, Human Rights Watch also had the full cooperation of police officials permanently assigned to the court to coordinate logistics for the hearings. They gave Human Rights Watch free access to all detainees, but there was no opportunity to talk confidentially to them. The detainees usually sat on the floor facing the wall and were told not to talk to anyone or to each other. Through early September 2004, most of the interviews or discussions with the detainees conducted by Human Rights Watch took place in the Major Crimes Room, within sight of police officials who had escorted them from their places of detention, but in most cases out of earshot. The president of the Central Criminal Court changed the system on September 7, ordering that all detainees be kept in the holding cells until the judges or judicial investigators were ready to receive them, and closing down the Major Crimes Room. Thereafter, Human Rights Watch conducted its interviews at the holding cells, which afforded more opportunity for confidential discussions with the detainees, without the presence of any detaining officials.
 In some cases, detainees gave Human Rights Watch the first names and ranks of police officials who they alleged had tortured them or ordered their torture under interrogation.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Haidar Ahmad Mirza Ahmad al-Nuaimi, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, July 31, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Raed Abdul-Salam Hamid, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, September 11, 2004. Hamid said he also had spent some two months at the Major Crimes Directorate, and has been subsequently transferred to the Iraqi Correctional Service section located in Abu Ghraib prison. He and his four co-defendants told Human Rights Watch that their trial had been postponed four times because of the failure of the police to bring a sixth defendant charged in the same case. On that day too, only five of them had been brought to court, and the trial was postponed again.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Amer Rahim Dhari, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 18, 2004.
 A police official present in the Major Crimes Room suggested to Human Rights Watch that the three were arrested because they may have been loitering suspiciously near the Ministry.
 Human Rights Watch discussion with an investigative judge, Central Criminal Court, October 24, 2004.
 See Ann Barnard, Setting a tough tone in Baghdad roundup, Boston Globe, July 17, 2004. According to the article, Barnard was contacted by a high-ranking official in Iraqs Interior Ministry, who told her, Weve arrested 500 criminals. Come to the ministry now. And bring your camera. You can take their pictures.
 See, for example, Satellite images contribute to the arrest of 13 gangs, Al-Sabah, June 28, 2004.
 See Jamal Hashem Ali, Breakup of fifteen criminal gangs on the eve of sovereignty transfer: the Interior raid al-Bataween dens, Azzaman, June 28, 2004.
 Some of these photographs can be viewed on http://tinyurl.com/4uze6.
 Accounts of the incident were first published by Mike Francis in, Ordered to just walk away, The Oregonian August 11, 2004.
 Extracts from a statement written by Captain Jarrell Southall, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Division, Oregon Army National Guard. The statement is dated June 29, 2004.
 Mike Francis, Abuse by Iraqis astonished guardsman, The Oregonian, October 9, 2004.
 Mike Francis, Ordered to just walk away, The Oregonian, August 11, 2004.
 Mike Francis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman praises Oregon soldiers action, The Oregonian, October 9, 2004. General Myers comment was said to have been made in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), in response to his call for an investigation into the incident.
 See, for example, Failed American attempt to release members of the al-Bataween gangs, Al-Sabah, June 30, 2004. Other newspapers reported that U.S. forces had arrested Iraqi police officers. See, for example Jamal Hashem Ali, American force detains police officers questioning the al-Bataween gangs, Azzaman, June 30, 2004.
 Under the penitentiary system established by the previous Iraqi government, detainees being referred to court or destined for transfer to another prison within cities or between different governorates would usually pass through a Detention and Transfer Prison or Tasfirat for short(Sijn al-Mawqif wal-Tasfirat). In Baghdad, there were two such prisons, one in al-Karkh covering western Baghdad, and another in al-Rusafa, covering eastern Baghdad. At this writing, only the al-Rusafa Tasfirat was in use. The prison is located in the al-Shaab district, close to the football stadium and opposite the Baghdad Police Academy.
 Human Rights Watch interview with the wife of one of the al-Bataween detainees [name withheld by Human Rights Watch], Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch discussions with Zuhair al-Maliki, Salem Radwan al-Musawi and Haqqi Ismail al-Shummari, investigative judges, Central Criminal Court, September 15, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Ghadhban Tuma, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, October 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Jaber Ghadhban Tuma, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, October 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Jassem Ghadhban Tuma, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, October 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Ubaid al-Sayyid Makki Muhammad, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, October 23, 2004.
 Jamal Hashem Ali, Organized gangs dens raided in al-Fadhl, al-Kifah and al-Sadriyya, Azzaman, July 14, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Fateh Nameq, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 7, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Arkan Rahim Lafta, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 7, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Saad Hassun Kadhim, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 21, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with Hussain Adel Karim Khan and Amjad Sadi Muhammad, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 21, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch discussion with an investigative judge [name withheld by Human Rights Watch], Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 21, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Ammar Rashid Amid, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 30, 2004.
 In some cases, police officials told Human Rights Watch that although they had not brought defendants to the Central Criminal Court in person within twenty-four hours as stipulated by the CCP, defendents files had been referred to the investigative judges within a few days of arrest. In response to this, the judges told the organization that they did not regard this as compliant with the law, and that the defendants must appear before them in person.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Tahsin Khalil Ibrahim, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 10, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Khalid Muhammad Atiyya, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 25, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Hassan al-Sayyid Mulla Hassan, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 28, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with Sawa Efraim and Shimon Musa Odisho, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 28, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Saif Saad Ilyas, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, September 18, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Faruq Karim Muhyi Zamel, al-Karrada Criminal Court, Baghdad, September 9, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Yasser Abdul-Hamid Abdul-Razzaq, al-Karrada Criminal Court, Baghdad, September 9, 2004.
 ICCPR, Art. 14(3)(g).
 See HRC, Concluding Comments on Romania, UN doc. CCPR/C/79/Add. 111 (1999).
 Human Rights Watch interviews with Adnan Talib Dayikh, Riad Muhammad Hamid, Faiz Fadhil Alwan al-Janabi, Ahmad Naim Abbas al-Zaidi, Muhammad Hatem Abd al-Jabbar al-Tamimi, Haidar Ahmad Mirza al-Nuaimi, and Shahrazad Dakhil Muhsin, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, July 31, 2004.
 Under Article 443 (2, 3 and 5) of the Penal Code.
 Under Articles 421 and 422 of the Penal Code, as amended.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Sabah Ali Hammadi, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 1, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Issa Abbud Sardar, Central Criminal Court, Baghdad, August 1, 2004.
 Under Article 443 (1, 3 and 4) of the Penal Code.