Monday, March 06, 2006

Held for two years without trial

Amnesty International reports that of about 14,000 detainees in Iraq, nearly 4,000 have been imprisoned without charge for more than a year -- 200 of them for more than two years.

"To hold this huge number of people without basic legal safeguards is a gross dereliction of responsibility on the part of both the US and UK forces," said Amnesty UK director Kate Allen.

Many Iraqis report they were tortured or abused, often at the hands of Iraqi guards, not coalition forces.

Here's our response:
Each detainee is given a form explaining the reasons for their imprisonment and their files are reviewed every 90 to 120 days, U.S. detention command spokesman Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill told AP in an e-mail response to questions.

That seems woefully inadequate to me.

The allegations of torture are just that -- allegations. The sheer number of them indicate that the problem should be taken seriously, but allegations alone do not constitute proof of abuse.

What is undisputed is that we are holding people for years without charge. If they are prisoners of war, document it and transfer them to a POW camp where the Geneva Conventions apply. If they are not, then charge them in a timely manner or release them.

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