Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dutch torture

In 2003, the Dutch government sent 1400 troops to Iraq as part of America's "coalition of the willing". Now, we learn that they abused prisoners in their care:

Prisoners were forced to wear darkened goggles, which were periodically removed to allow them to be exposed to bright light, the report said.

They were kept awake for long periods by being drenched with water and forced to listen to high-pitched sounds, it added.

There is no question (as far as the Dutch are concerned) that this is a violation of both international and Dutch law, and prosecutions will likely follow. According to European Tribune (which is an excellent resource for getting European news and commentary in translation), debate is centering on whether it qualifies as "torture" in terms of the Convention Against Torture, and therefore whether the soldiers involved will be charged with war crimes. Interestingly, the abuses were reported at the time, but there were no prosecutions; the government seems to have decided to sweep the whole affair under the carpet. To have this news break just days from an election is explosive, to say the least...