Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Britain's Abu Ghraib

Back in 2004, the world was shocked by graphic evidence of torture and abuse by US troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Now it looks like the British have their own version:

Evidence of systematic and brutal mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at a secret British military interrogation centre that is being described as the UK's Abu Ghraib emerged today during high court proceedings brought by more than 200 former inmates.

The court was informed that there is evidence detainees were starved, deprived of sleep, subjected to sensory deprivation and threatened with execution at the shadowy facilities near Basra operated by the Joint Forces Interrogation Team (JFIT).

It also received allegations that JFIT's prisoners were beaten and forced to kneel in stressful positions for up to 30 hours at a time, and that some were subjected to electric shocks. Some of the prisoners say they were subjected to sexual humiliation by female soldiers, while others allege that they were held for days in cells as small as one metre square.

Starvation. Beatings. Sleep deprivation. Electric shocks. This is clearly torture, it is clearly a war crime, and it is clearly illegal under both UK and international law. Those responsible must be uncovered and prosecuted. Those in power who turned a blind eye or condoned it must be dragged screaming into the light of day and held to account. Instead, of course, they're arguing that they should be allowed to investigate it themselves, and stage the usual cosy whitewash (which no-one will believe). Hopefully, the UK courts won't let them.