Two decades later, the United States has not provided reparations or compensation to Iraqi victims of torture and abuse by its military at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
An HRW report released Monday said the New York-based group found no evidence that the U.S. government provided any compensation or other reparations to the victims, nor did it issue individual apologies or other reparations.
Between 2003, when the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq, and 2009, when it closed its largest internment camp in the country, about 100,000 Iraqis are believed to have been held by the U.S. and its coalition allies.
Human rights organizations documented torture and other forms of ill-treatment by U.S. forces in Iraq during this period, forcing then-President George W. Bush to apologize even as he tried to downplay the systemic nature of torture by calling it “disgraceful.” described behavior of some American troops.”
Compensation that never existed
A February 2004 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the U.S.-led military coalition said military intelligence officials had told the ICRC that up to 90 percent of the people in coalition custody in Iraq in 2003 were accidentally had been arrested.
Although then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld promised compensation, this never materialized.
HRW said some victims had tried to seek compensation through the Foreign Claims Act, but a no-fight clause in the law made claims difficult, along with another clause that says claims must be filed within two years of the alleged harm.
The report added that Iraqi claims for justice in U.S. courts were also dismissed by a 1946 law that grants U.S. forces immunity for “any claims arising from the combat activities of military or naval forces or the Coast Guard during the period.” war.” “.
According to HRW, the only cases brought before the courts were against military contractors, but these too have faced significant obstacles since the late 2000s and have at times dragged their way through the justice system.
“Twenty years later, Iraqis who were tortured by U.S. personnel still have no clear path to filing a lawsuit or receiving any kind of redress or recognition from the U.S. government,” said Sarah Yager, Washington director at HRW.
“US officials have indicated that they would prefer to leave torture in the past, but the long-term effects of torture are still an everyday reality for many Iraqis and their families.”
“They stole our future”
HRW interviewed Taleb al-Majli, a former detainee at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison who has yet to receive compensation or recognition from the U.S. government for the torture he endured.
He was arrested in November 2003 in western Iraq’s Anbar province while visiting relatives and released without charge in March 2005.
“They took our clothes. They constantly mocked us while we were blindfolded and had hoods over our heads. We were completely powerless,” he said. “I was tortured by police dogs, sound bombs, live fire and water hoses.”
Al-Majli began biting his hands and wrists to cope with the trauma he was experiencing. Since then, he has been unable to give up the habit, constantly leaving purple welts and bruises on his hands and wrists.
“I try to avoid it, but I can’t. To this day I can’t wear short sleeves. When people see this, I tell them it’s burns. I avoid questions,” he said.
His children were the only reason he never tried to end his life, he said, but they were not spared from the effects of al-Majli’s imprisonment because their mother left and remarried Son is suffering from health problems and daughter has dropped out of school.
“They stole our future from us,” al-Majli said.
According to the HRW report, out of numerous cases, only 97 U.S. soldiers received punishments who were involved in 38 cases of abuse that the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Department investigated in Iraqi centers between 2003 and 2005.
Only eleven soldiers were court-martialed to face criminal charges, and nine of them served prison sentences.
“There is no public evidence that any U.S. military officer has been held accountable for criminal acts committed by subordinates under the doctrine of command responsibility,” the organization said, adding that presidents from Bush to Joe Biden have made efforts for meaningful accountability.
There have been efforts to impose stricter controls on the treatment of people in U.S. custody abroad, including legislation from Congress, policy reviews and an action plan released by the Pentagon last year.
But HRW said it had failed to provide reliable mechanisms to verify past harms to men, women and children in U.S. custody in Iraq, much of which has gone uninvestigated and unacknowledged in 20 years.
Source : www.aljazeera.com