Physicians’ group says exams confirm Abu Ghraib, other torture

June 19th, 2008 - 11:12 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 19 (DPA) A US human rights group has said that medical examinations of prisoners held at prisons in Iraq and Cuba by the US military confirmed that they were tortured. The Boston-based group, Physicians for Human Rights, conducted an evaluation of 11 detainees who were freed without being charged after being held at the prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report was released as senior Pentagon officials were grilled this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee to explain how they sought and received information from military trainers on abusive techniques that could be used to interrogate detainees in the war on terrorism.

The physician’s group report gives details for example of how an Iraqi businessman and imam of a local mosque was beaten unconscious, “kept naked and isolated in a cold dark room for three weeks”, and placed in isolation in “a urine-soaked room for two months”.

The Iraqi, named as Kamal, showed “physical and psychological evidence consistent with the abuse” he described, the report said.

“Particularly striking is the severity of Kamal’s depressive symptoms, with feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt, and difficulty sleeping,” the physicians wrote, saying his symptoms would merit hospitalization if he were living in the US.

The descriptions in the report echo testimony before the US Senate Tuesday that charged senior Pentagon officials with seeking and receiving information from military trainers on abusive techniques that could be used to interrogate detainees in the war on terrorism.

The Pentagon sought the harsh methods from the military agency tasked with training US soldiers to resist interrogations in the event of capture by enemies likely to violate the Geneva Conventions, said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. A former head of the training programme for US soldiers corroborated the findings.

The techniques to train US soldiers included stress positions, keeping detainees naked, use of dogs, sleep deprivation and the use of hoods during interrogations. Some of those were approved in 2002 and later rescinded by then-defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use at Guantanamo Bay.

Leaked photographs in 2004 showed the practices were used at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The images provoked worldwide outrage and gave a black eye to the US military. Human-rights advocates have argued that some of the methods employed by the Bush administration amounted to torture.

The Bush administration denies that the US subjects detainees to torture or abuse but has conceded it does use tough interrogations to glean information from suspected terrorists about other possible plots.

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