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Iraqi authorities 'used torture' to force IS confessions from prisoners

Convicted IS members face life imprisonment or the death penalty [AFP]

Date of publication: 30 April, 2019

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Family members of prisoners convicted of being Islamic State group members in Iraq say authorities used torture to force their confessions.
Relatives of convicted prisoners in Mosul said Iraqi security forces have used "severe" torture to force them to confess to membership of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Those convicted under Iraq's Article 4 anti-terrorism law face long prison sentences or the death penalty for participating in terrorist acts.

Mosul resident Mayada Omar told The Associated Press her brother, Khalid, was taken from their family home in the Old City of Mosul in July 2017, allegedly based on a tip-off from a neighbour.  

Khalid was convicted of life imprisonment in December 2018 after confessing to membership of IS.

Mayada visited her brother in prison and claims the confession was taken forcibly through "unbelievable torture".

"When I went to visit my brother (in prison), he told me it was all because of the torture, that he confessed to pledging loyalty (to IS) because of torture," Omar told AP.

It was the result of torture that he confessed, severe torture. 'Anyone in my place would have confessed to anything, unbelievable torture', he said."

Another Mosul resident, Mohammed Ali, said security forces took his sons, Adnan and Fahd, in April 2018.

Adnan was given the death penalty in January 2019 for membership of IS, while Fahd remains in pre-trial detention in Mosul.

Fatima, their mother, said she went to see them in the prison where Adnan told her that he had been tortured for his confession.

Although the family members' claims have not been verified, they match accusations made in reports published by Human Rights Watch.

Most recently, a report published in February, based on a wide range of interviews, alleged the use of torture in Iraqi government facilities to extract confessions, including from children.

A spokesman for Iraq's ministry of interior, Major General Saad Maan, denied the accusations at the time.

HRW's Iraq researcher, Belkis Wille, told AP that the Iraqi security forces had arrested thousands of men and boys in Mosul, accusing them of membership of IS.

"We have interviewed in the last months many individuals who were held in prison and then released, who had signs, physical signs of torture on their bodies, described being held in stress positions, being waterboarded, being hung from the ceiling and beaten, being electrocuted in some cases," said Wille.

"All of the people that we've spoken to, who speak very consistently about the same types of torture being used over and over again, say that this torture is really used in the context of interrogations, and it's used to obtain and extract a confession from [IS] suspects."

Wansa Younus is another mother who said her son was taken by the security forces and convicted in March 2019.

She said that her son confessed to having participated in a training course by IS in Mosul.

But she claims that his confession was beaten out of him.

Iraqi security forces, supported by an international coalition, drove IS out of Mosul after a nine-month battle in July 2017.

Asked about reports of torture being used to extract confessions, Iraqi President Barham Salih told AP in an interview last month that authorities are looking into such reports.

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