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
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 2116 GMT (0516 HKT)
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1714 GMT (0114 HKT)
... not in Italy. In fact, it's thousands of miles away.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 0043 GMT (0843 HKT)
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT