Abuse of Iraqi civilians alleged in study by human rights group

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WASHINGTON - Iraqi civilians are being arrested arbitrarily, tortured while in jail and threatened with indefinite detention unless they pay bribes, according to a study released yesterday by Human Rights Watch.

The abuse of detainees has become "routine and commonplace," the group said in its 94-page report, The New Iraq? Torture and Ill Treatment of Detainees in Iraqi Custody.

The report said that Iraq's interim government appeared to be either an active participant in the abuses, or "is at least complicit."

"The people of Iraq were promised something better than this after the government of Saddam Hussein fell," Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division, said in a statement. "The Iraqi interim government is not keeping its promises to honor and respect basic human rights."

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters yesterday the United States welcomed an announcement by Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights that it would investigate the allegations.

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