Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has presented the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq with a dossier of statistical data compiled from seventy-two case studies of the treatment of Iraqi detainees, including torture.
CPT has maintained a almost continuous presence in Iraq from October 25, 2002. Since July 2003, CPT has been following the cases of numerous Iraqis detained by US forces. Often these detentions have involved acts of violence, including the following:
?house raids using excessive force against unarmed civilians;
?theft and destruction of personal property;
?lack of legal representation or clear judicial process for detainees;
?mistreatment, including torture of detainees during interrogation and in prison camps
?withholding of information about detainees' whereabouts and well-being from the detainees' families and/or Iraqi and international human rights organizations.
These actions, say CPT, are violations of Iraqis' human rights according to international law and fuel violent responses which endanger the lives of the Coalition soldiers who occupy Iraq.
As part of its work CPT Iraq accompanies families of detainees in search of information about, and justice for, their loved ones.
CPT Iraq is now working in partnership with Iraqi community leaders and human rights organisations to publicise the stories of Iraqi detainees and their families. In addition, CPT Iraq workers have met with US officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to ask for changes in these detention policies.
The dossier that has been presented to the Coalition Provisional Authority includes examples of:
1. Violent house raids: House raids terrify Iraqi children and heap shame on Iraqi women who are pulled from their beds wearing only nightclothes. In a Muslim culture, this is particularly offensive, and Iraqi men and boys are incensed by this treatment.
2. Lack of family visits with prisoners which is causing frustration and anger. In addition, many families trying to visit prisoners receive misleading directions. CPT is now urging the CPA to make it easier for families to visit detainees and obtain information about them.
3. Health Concerns: Families have no way to inquire about the health and well-being of prisoners. This is particularly distressing when families know that their detained loved ones were injured at the time of their arrest. Family members often report that detained relatives have chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. CPT urges the CPA to allow family members access to all information pertaining to the health of detainees.
4. Mistreatment of Detainees: All released detainees to whom CPT spoke reported that they were housed in overcrowded tents without proper clothes or toilet facilities, particularly in the initial detention centres to which they were taken. CPT volunteers saw handcuffed prisoners being led around with black plastic bags over their heads at an army base near Balad on December 24th, 2003.
5. Theft of Property: CPT has heard many stories about Coalition forces confiscating money and property during house raids. Team members have not heard of any instances in which Coalition forces gave the owners receipts for confiscated property. CPT urges Coalition forces to cease unnecessary confiscation of property, to issue receipts when confiscation is necessary, and to return all property that has been unjustly confiscated.
6. Ineffective Application Process for Confiscated Property: Many people who have applied for compensation for damaged and confiscated property have not received any written proof of their application. CPT urges the CPA to document and follow through on all requests for compensation, and to give families copies of all documents relating to compensation.
7. Lack of Security: Iraqis say that the criminals arrested every day by Iraqi police are then freed within a few days by Coalition authorities. Meanwhile, innocent detainees are held for months.
CPT are now calling for the development of a process for handling detainee issues that is transparent, efficient, and that upholds basic legal rights. A more open approach that attends to the concerns of families and more freely shares information will, in the long run, provide better security for both Iraqi civilians and Coalition soldiers and personnel.
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers) with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations.
CPT has maintained a almost continuous presence in Iraq from October 25, 2002. Their presence was briefly interrupted for two weeks in April 2003 when stricter limits on their work by Iraqi authorities led CPT to leave Baghdad.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) offer an organised, non-violent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter-group conflict. CPT provides organisational support to persons committed to faith-based non-violent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy.
CPT seeks to enlist the response of the whole church in conscientious objection to war, and the development of non-violent institutions, skills and training for intervention in conflict situations.