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UN SAYS THOUSANDS ILEGALLY DETAINED IN IRAQ

(ANTARA News)

prisoners-iraq-02.jpg

April 21, 2006

Geveva (ANTARA News) - Iraqi authorities are illegally detaining thousands of people, the United Nations` senior human rights official for the country said on Friday, and also urged the US-led coalition to charge or release its prisoners.

Gianni Magazzeni, who is based in Baghdad, told reporters a total of 29,565 people were being detained in Iraq, some 14,222 of them by coalition forces.

Of the 15,000 people held by the local Iraqi authorities, only 8,300 were being held by the justice ministry, which is the only body that has the right to detain suspects for more than 72 hours, Magazzeni said.

He said another 6,000 held by the interior ministry and some 460 held by the defense ministry were therefore "not even being detained in accordance with Iraqi law."

Magazzeni added that the United Nations believed the number of suspects being detained by coalition forces was far too high.

"We think that the 15,000 being held for `urgent security reasons` are far too many and we are working very closely (with the coalition) to reduce that number considerably," the UN envoy said.

He said the United Nations still does not have access to prisoners being held in unidentified coalition prisons, and called for them to be released or handed over to Iraqi authorities to be charged.

"We want them to speed up this process," Magazzeni said, adding that the UN was "very concerned about ongoing violations" of human rights in Iraq.

"Torture and summary executions happen every day," he said.

Magazzeni said so-called death squads had become more active since the bombing of the revered Shiite shrine at Samarra, and there were indications that the police and other authorities were involved.

"We`ve seen an increase in the instances of allegations of actions by such militias or death squads that sometimes are linked with police forces or forces within state entities in Iraq."

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh on April 12 acknowledged the existence of death squads within certain divisions of the security forces.

A recent upsurge of sectarian violence in Iraq that has left hundreds of dead is often blamed by Sunnis on militias wearing uniforms belonging to the security forces. (*)


:: Article nr. 22756 sent on 22-apr-2006 03:09 ECT

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Link: www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=11594



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