U.S. Holds 18,000 Prisoners in Iraq

April 22, 2007

One result of the recent "security crackdown" in Iraq has been the largescale imprisonment of Iraqi people.

According to the Washington Post (4-15-07), over 18,000 Iraqis are now being held in U.S. military-run prisons inside Iraq. Over 1,000 have been arrested and jailed just within the last month. More than 8,000 have been added during the past year. According to military officials, on average, over 1/2 of the prisoners are kept in the jails for more than a year. Many prisoners are confined without any legal review for up to 18 months, according to U.S. officials. The Pentagon has admitted that those imprisoned in Iraq are not treated as prisoners of war, but rather as "enemy combatants." On February 13, the U.S.-puppet Iraqi government issued a martial-law decree supporting the security crackdown. The decree gave military commanders authority to conduct warrantless searches and arrests, monitor private communications and restrict public gatherings.

Commenting on this ongoing imprisonment, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: "We don't see any legal authority for the U.S. to detain Iraqis or judge them under some tribunal system," she said. "If the U.S. exercises that power it's another symbol of occupation." The use of torture and abuse of detainees by the U.S. military in Iraq is well documented.