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Occupied Iraq has the Largest Number of Prisons in the World Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 May 2008 21:13
ImageSahar Yasiri says “Iraq is the number one country having the largest number of prisons in the world where there are more than 400 thousand Iraqi detainees including 6500 children and 10 thousand women.” This is the first part of long interview translated by AMSI English Web Team. 


The representative of the Federation of prisoners and political prisoners, Iraqi lawyer Sahar Yasiri clarified that the number of camps and prisons in all governorates of Iraq reaches to 36 except the Abu Ghraib prison, which turns as the best among the other prisons despite the terrible conditions. He said in an interview in a conference organized by the World Commission against unarmed cooperation with the Free University of Brussels entitled "war terrorism of American on terrorism "that the number of Iraqi prisoners up to 400 thousand prisoners whom 6500 event and 10 thousand women 95% of whom were raped.


Q - In your opinion how many Iraqi prisoners are being held since the American occupation of Iraq?

As you may appreciate, Iraq will become the largest possible number of prisons and detention centers. Apart from the occupation prisons, there are other prisons belong to the Iraqi Government, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of National Security and Intelligence as well as private prisons belong to political parties. 

Q - What do you say on the monitors about the conditions of prisoners happening inside these prisons?

I assure you that the rape in torture is a systematic policy of American understanding and woman or man nobody escaped from this. Perhaps public opinion saw what is happening in Abu Ghraib prison, but I say that the images that emerged to the surface on the scandals and violations in Abu Ghraib did not show the whole of truth in other prisons. May be Abu Ghraib prison has mercy on the rest of the other prisons.

Q - As legitimacy, how do you see the Central Intelligence Agency and violations of the rights of prisoners?

Yasiri: In the speech delivered by President Bush on September 6, 2006, it was reported that the Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation "subjected to several legal reviews by the Ministry of Defense and counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency", and that "subject to strict supervision by the Inspector General of the IAEA." 

However, if the program has undergone a methodical examination, as President Bush suggested, it raises serious questions about the legal review by government agencies responsible for issues of national and international consequences.


This means that the program is illegal basically and in contrast to the international standards of human rights and humanitarian law.

The arrest and abuse of prisoners, such as Marwan Jabbour, a violation by the United States for a range of basic human rights standards.

Enforced disappearance, including arbitrary detention, secret detention and incommunicado detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are prohibited under international human rights law.

Q - What is the legal definition of enforced disappearance?

Yasiri: It is known as the "International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance" (Convention for enforced disappearance) "forced disappearances". Because;

Arrest, detention or abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty is at the hands of agents of the State or by persons or groups of individuals acting with the authorization or support from the State or consent, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or concealment of the fate of the disappeared person or his whereabouts, thus depriving them of the protection of the law.

In spite of this convention which has not yet entered into execution, the definition of forced disappearance is consistent with the definitions contained in a number of previous international covenants. 


When "Convention on enforced disappearances" started for signing on February 6, 2007, 57 countries immediately signed it. But the United States were not among the signatories, although active participation in the formulation of the Convention. Patrick Cormack spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the United States did not sign because the Convention as saying "It does not meet our needs and expectations.” However, he did not provide further details. 

"Disappearances" is prohibited by international law in all circumstances, as provided by "Convention on enforced disappearances" that "may not be invoked in any exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other state of exception, to justify enforced disappearances. 

The Convention prohibits secret detention, calls on States parties to place all detainees in the detention camps known officially, to keep detailed records of each official detainee, to allow the detainees to contact their families and lawyers and to enable the competent authorities to contact detainees. 

The practice of enforced disappearance is a serious threat to a number of human rights, such as the right to life, prohibition of torture and cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to a fair and public trial. 

"Working Group on Enforced" of the United Nations acknowledged that the crime of forced disappearance is "continuing offence even to know the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared." Hence, the "disappeared" who are detained by the United States and who have disappeared since transferred to another place a legal obligation to remain States Nations, as long as the fate or whereabouts not yet known. 

Q – What are the consequences of enforced disappearances?  

If the arrest of Jabbour is secret it also means that his three children becomes having no information whether their father is alive or not. His wife also does not know she is still married or not. This complexity of puzzling is the effects of the recent events.  

It is noticeable that “Working group on Enforced Disappearance” belong to the UN expressed its strong concern of the American government to use secret prisons to detain suspected terrorists, and concluded that the arrest in these circumstances is "a serious denial of basic human rights of the arrested people not consistent with international humanitarian law and the law of human rights."

In order to protect detainees from being violated they should be placed in detention camps that officially recognized.

It must keep the records proving the names of prisoners and place of detention, the names of those responsible for the arrest. These records also be made available to those concerned, such as relatives and friends. 

In addition, it must immediately “submit to their relatives, lawyers or other persons who need confidence, accurate information on the detention and whereabouts, including the operations of transporting." Finally, the names, the places of all interrogations and the names of all those who were present must be registered. This information must be available for decision-judicial or administrative proceedings.  

International law also prohibits the detention of isolation from the outside world even if it did not represent the "disappearance according to the Law on Foreign Relations of the United States (third language). Indeed the state violates the law if they prolonged arbitrary detention or encourage or condoned by as a part of state policy.  



It treaties that the ban of "the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" and the "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" (CAT), both ratified by the United States.  

The prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment present in other international charters, such as the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," and "Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment",” Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners."

Torture and interrogation are also prohibited by the international humanitarian law at all times during the armed conflict.

This is exemplified by the existing ban in the Geneva Conventions as well as customary laws of war in the American military fields in the ground and training.

On December 2, 2002, the Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense agreed on the use of 16 as a means of interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, including "stressful situations", hooding, isolation, stripping, deprivation of light, and the confiscation of religious symbols, forced grooming (shaving hair face), and the use of dogs.

On January 15, 2003, following criticism by the General Counsel of American naval Rumsfeld cancelled directives issued December 2, saying that the harsh methods, including the others will be used only with his consent.

Rumsfeld then formed a working group to study the ways of interrogation should be allowed to use with the prisoners of Guantanamo, resulting in the announcement of this study, in the April 16, the note identifying methods for use solely for interrogation "illegal combatants" held in Guantanamo no longer allowed after using stress positions and stripping and dogs.

The "immigrated" of those methods that can be followed in the interrogation - quote Schlesinger report - to Iraq and Afghanistan to be applied by American officials periodically on the detainees.

After disclosure of the images in the Abu Ghraib prison in April 2004, the Bush administration denied responsibility, and eventually changed the Ministry of Defense memorandum dated August 1, 2002, which was considered a legal logic of interrogation methods allowed.

At one report the Bush administration and the Ministry of Justice permission authorized the Central Intelligence Agency, using additional ways, such as water immersion (simulated drowning) in January 2005, allegedly appointed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in a written reply during the meetings of proof, that the international ban cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or not apply to American officials in the treatment of non-citizens abroad, indicating that there was no law prohibiting the CIA use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the interrogation of non-Americans outside the United States. 



The end of first part of interview.

 For II. Part click HERE


However, these restrictions on interrogation methods were not apply to the CIA, apparently.










Q - How do you see the torture and other forms of ill-treatment?

Yasiri: International human rights law bans torture and other forms of ill-treatment of detained persons in all circumstances, whether in times of war or peace.








Yasiri: It is the violation of fundamental rights of disappeared people; however the events give more pain and severe mental suffering for the family members of this person as well.  











Yasiri: What I can say on this issue that 95% of these prisoners have been raped because of the importance of honor at Arabs and Muslims. 5% were threatened to rape especially women.


There is no doubt that these prisons are witnessing the worst images of human rights violations. Prisoners inside those prisons live without a court order, which remained for long periods without their offer to the courts. 


Yasiri: According to the reports of foreign organizations and the American press, the number of those arrested people hits 400 thousand detainees of whom are 6500 children and 10 thousand women.  

There are 36 prisons in Iraq apart from Abu Ghraib prison this fall and in all provinces, including Kurdistan, let alone North prisons located in the American military bases. 
We have another type of prisoners called ghost prisoners of which number reaches 1000 that we have no information about them. Meanwhile, the parents of detainees also do know anything about them.