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Alleged Methods of Ill Treatment
An Exerpt from the Red Cross Report on Prisoner Abuse in Iraq


The following is an excerpt from the February 2004 report prepared by the International Red Cross on abuse in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq and published on the Web site of 'The Wall Street Journal.'


The methods of ill-treatment most frequently alleged during interrogation include:

• Hooding, used to prevent people from seeing and to disorient them, and also to prevent them from breathing freely. One or sometimes two bags, sometimes with an elastic blindfold over the eyes which, when slipped down, further impeded proper breathing. Hooding was sometimes used in conjunction with beatings thus increasing anxiety as to when blows would come. The practice of hooding also allowed the interrogators to remain anonymous and thus to act with impunity. Hooding could last for periods from a few hours to up to 2 to 4 consecutive days, during which hoods were lifted only for drinking, eating or going to the toilets;

• Handcuffing with flexi-cuffs, which were sometimes made so tight and used for such extended periods that they caused skin lesions and long-term after-effects on the hands (nerve damage), as observed by the ICRC;

• Beating with hard objects (including pistols and rifles), slapping, punching, kicking with knees or feet on various parts of the body (legs, sides, lower back, groin);

• Pressing the face into the ground with boots;

• Threats (of ill-treatment, reprisals against family members, imminent execution or transfer to Guantanamo);

• Being stripped naked for several days while held in solitary confinement in an empty and completely dark cell that included a latrine.

• Being held in solitary confinement combined with threats (to intern the individual indefinitely, to arrest other family members, to transfer the individual to Guantanamo), insufficient sleep, food or water deprivation, minimal access to showers (twice a week), denial of access to open air and prohibition of contacts with other persons deprived of their liberty;

• Being paraded naked outside cells in front of other persons deprived of the their liberty, and guards, sometimes hooded or with women's underwear over the head;

• Acts of humiliation such as being made to stand naked against the wall of the cell with arms raised or with women's underwear over the head for prolonged periods - while being laughed at by guards, including female guards, and sometimes photographed in this position;

• Being attached repeatedly over several days, for several hours each time, with handcuffs to the bars of their cell door in humiliating (i.e. naked or in underwear) and/or uncomfortable position causing physical pain;

• Exposure while hooded to loud noise or music, prolonged exposure while hooded to the sun over several hours, including during the hottest time of the day when temperatures could reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher;

• Being forced to remain for prolonged periods in stress positions such as squatting or standing with or without the arms lifted.

These methods of physical and psychological coercion were used by the military intelligence in a systematic way to gain confessions and extract information or other forms of co-operation from persons who had been arrested in connection with suspected security offences or deemed to have an "intelligence value."

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