Skip to main content

Report: A decade after Hussein, Iraq still grapples with human rights abuses

By Holly Yan, CNN
March 11, 2013 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Sectarian strife continues to plague the country, reports Amnesty International.
Sectarian strife continues to plague the country, reports Amnesty International.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Amnesty International says the torture of detainees and unfair trials plague Iraq
  • The group says detainees are tortured into confessing and sometimes sentenced to death
  • Reported methods of torture include shocks to the genitals, beatings and partial suffocation
  • Sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims also plagues the country

(CNN) -- Ten years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains "enmeshed in a grim cycle of human rights abuses," Amnesty International said in a report Monday.

"Many Iraqis today enjoy greater freedoms than they did under his Ba'athist regime, but the fundamental human rights gains that should have been achieved during the past decade have signally failed to materialize," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International.

Attacks on civilians, the torture of detainees and unfair trials permeate the country, Amnesty International said.

The report said government forces commit torture with impunity, especially against those arrested on suspicion of carrying out terrorism acts.

There was no immediate reaction from the Iraqi government.

Methods of torture

Methods of torture reported by detainees include electric shocks; including to the genitals; partial suffocation with a bag placed tightly over the head; beatings while suspended in contorted positions; and the deprivation of food, water and sleep, Amnesty said.

10 years later: Iraq's phantom WMD
Syrians refugees find stability in Iraq
Iraqi soldiers fire on protesters
A look back at Iraq anti-war protests

"Detainees have alleged that they were tortured to force them to 'confess' to serious crimes or to incriminate others while held in these conditions," the group said. "Many have repudiated their confessions at trial only to see the courts admit them as evidence of their guilt, without investigating their torture allegations, sentencing them to long term imprisonment or death."

129 hangings

Such death sentences contribute to one of the highest execution rates in the world, Amnesty said. Last year, 129 Iraqi prisoners were hanged.

"Death sentences and executions are being used on a horrendous scale," Sahraoui said. "It is particularly abhorrent that many prisoners have been sentenced to death after unfair trials and on the basis of confessions they say they were forced to make under torture."

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty worldwide.

Sectarian strife

Sectarian strife also continues to plague the country, where Shiite Muslims dominate the central government.

Thousands of demonstrators in Sunni-dominated areas have protested the arbitrary detention and abuse of detainees, Amnesty said. The protesters also denounced what they say is government discrimination against the Sunni population.

Sunni armed groups, meanwhile, continue to attack not only government targets but also Shiite civilians, including religious pilgrims, the group said.

Last month, Iraq's top judicial committee accused Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's security detail of carrying out 150 attacks against security forces and civilians between 2005 and 2011.

Al-Hashimi denied those allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq. The country has struggled to define itself, even after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011.

Violence has dropped dramatically But insurgent attacks against civilians and security forces persist.

Many areas are still smoldering with sectarian tension and political infighting.

CNN's Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1106 GMT (1906 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT