Iraqi officials outraged by the abuse of prisoners at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison are trying to contain a scandal of their own as allegations continue to surface of mistreatment inside Iraqi jails.
Accounts of Iraqis being beaten with clubs, blindfolded and coerced into signing false confessions are attracting increased attention partly because the United States is getting out of the prison business in Iraq. Since a security agreement took effect Jan. 1, the U.S. has transferred 841 detainees into Iraq’s crowded prison system and more are on the way.
Allegations of mistreatment have persisted since 2005, when U.S. troops raided an Interior Ministry lockup in a predominantly Shiite area of southeastern Baghdad and found scores of emaciated prisoners. The matter returned to the spotlight after the June 12 assassination of Sunni lawmaker Harith al-Obeidi, an outspoken advocate of prisoner rights.
The issue is a test of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s commitment to the rule of law and to reconcile with the Sunni minority, who account for most of the prisoners held in security cases. Sunnis claim they are being unfairly targeted by security forces run by al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government. [continued…]