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Human Rights Watch Calls for Anti-Torture Clause in U.S.-Iraq Security Pact

The measure is intended to protect some 17,000 Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. military upon their transfer to Iraqi authorities.
 
 
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Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday called for the addition of a clause to the pending U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that would shield detainees from transfer to Iraqi custody in order to avoid risk of torture. The group wants a provision that would allow prisoners a "legitimate chance" to contest their transfer, along with provisions that would permit the U.S. to inspect Iraqi detention facilities before final transfers take place. If approved, the security agreement would require that the U.S. receive permission before making all future arrests and that all new suspects be turned over to Iraqi control within 24 hours. The terms of the transfer of about 17,000 detainees currently being held by the U.S. in Iraq are not specified. Iraqi authorities admit that they are not prepared to take on the prisoners until they build more prisons and train guards. HRW also urged the U.S. to ensure that the eventual transfers comply with the UN Convention Against Torture and that those who remain in U.S. custody be guaranteed treatment that complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The New York Times has more.

The proposed security agreement, along with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), would extend U.S. forces' involvement in Iraq until 2011. Strong political opposition to the proposed agreement has caused both sides to consider asking the the UN for an extension of its current mandate, which authorizes U.S. troops to remain in Iraq only until the end of the year.