CPT summary report on treatment of Iraqi detainees and their families

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[Note: Below are excerpts from a much longer report available for download here]

CPT has presented the Coalition Provisional Authority with some statistical data compiled of from seventy-two case studies in its files. Our conclusion is straightforward: the military actions designed to ensure short-term security are in fact compromising long-term US security interests.

These actions include:
1. Violent house raids: House raids terrify Iraqi children and heap shame on Iraqi women who are pulled from their beds wearing only nightclothes. In a Muslim culture, this is particularly offensive, andIraqi men and boys are incensed by this treatment.

2. Lack of family visits with prisoners is causing frustration and anger. In addition, many families trying to visit prisoners receive misleading directions. CPT urges the CPA to make it easier for families to visit detainees and obtain information about them.

3. Health Concerns: Families have no way to inquire about the health and well-being of prisoners. This is particularly distressing when families know that their detained loved ones were injured at the time of their arrest. Family members often report that detained relatives have chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. CPT urges the CPA to allow family members access to all information pertaining to the health of detainees.

4. Mistreatment of Detainees: All released detainees to whom CPT spoke reported that they were housed in overcrowded tents without proper clothes or toilet facilities, particularly in the initial detention centers to which they were taken. CPT volunteers saw handcuffed prisoners being led around with black plastic bags over their heads at an army base near Balad on December 24th, 2003.

5. Theft of Property: CPT has heard many stories about Coalition forces confiscating money and property during house raids. Team members have not heard of any instances in which Coalition forces gave the owners receipts for confiscated property. CPT urges Coalition forces to cease unnecessary confiscation of property, to issue receipts when confiscation is necessary, and to return all property that has been unjustly confiscated.

6. Ineffective Application Process for Confiscated Property: Many people who have applied for compensation for damaged and confiscated property have not received any written proof of their application. CPT urges the CPA to document and follow through on all requests for compensation, and to give families copies of all documents relating to compensation.

7. Lack of Security: Iraqis say that the criminals arrested every day by Iraqi police are then freed within a few days by Coalition authorities. Meanwhile, innocent detainees are held for months.

Conclusion:
Developing a process for handling detainee issues that is transparent, efficient, and that upholds basic legal rights is essential for establishing a secure and democratic society. A more open approach that attends to the concerns of families and more freely shares information will, in the long run, provide better security for both Iraqi civilians and Coalition soldiers and personnel. The CPA could model the sort of justice system most desirable for a free, democratic Iraq.

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