Author Topic: PlusD cable Iraq-Severe Abuse at Ministry of Interior Site 4 Detention Facility  (Read 2161 times)

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Offline mayya

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2006 June 10, 04:21 (Saturday)

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DOJ/CRIM/OPDAT | IZ - Iraq | KJUS - Administration of Justice | MARR - Military and Defense Affairs--Military and Defense Arrangements | MOPS - Military and Defense Affairs--Military Operations | PGOV - Political Affairs--Government; Internal Governmental Affairs | PHUM - Political Affairs--Human Rights

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Iraq Baghdad

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Central Intelligence Agency |Communications Center | Defense Intelligence Agency | Department of Homeland Security | Department of Justice | Federal Bureau of Investigation | Iraq Iraq Collective |Secretary of Defense | Secretary of State | United States Central Command

B. BAGHDAD 1019 C. BAGHDAD 4921 05 D. BAGHDAD 5020 05 Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (a) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: On May, a joint U.S.-Iraqi inspection of the "Site 4" Iraqi National Police (INP) detention complex discovered more than 1,400 detainees in squalid, cramped conditions. Forty-one detainees interviewed had bruising and lash-marks consistent with violent physical abuse. Thirty-seven juveniles were illegally held at the facility, many alleging sexual abuse. Ministry of Interior (MOI) officials appear to have been comfortable engaging in large-scale violence against detainees at a well-known Baghdad facility that had been officially inspected twice since December 2005 (and visited unofficially half-a-dozen times by Post), indicating that MOI's capture-and-confess culture is Unabashedly tolerant of physical abuse. According to latest information from the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT), several other MOI officers have been "detained but not arrested" -- a not-uncommon practice at MOI. Ambassador briefed PM Maliki on the size and seriousness of the Site 4 abuse on June 5. Malik was, in his words, "appalled" at what happened there. END SUMMARY.

----------------- EVIDENCE OF ABUSE -----------------

2. (SBU) On May 30, a third joint U.S.-Iraqi inspection of the "Site 4" INP detention complex, located in central Baghdad, discovered more than 1,400 detainees in two separate facilities held in squalid, cramped conditions not uncommon in MOI Commando detention facilities. Forty-one detainees interviewed had bruising and lash-marks consistent with violent physical abuse. Thirty-seven juveniles were illegally held at the facility, many alleging sexual abuse.

3. (SBU) On June 1, the juvenile detainees were removed from Site 4 and transported temporarily to an MOI INP facility at Muthanna Airfield. Post is seeking an order from the Higher Juridical Council (HJC) authorizing their transfer to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) juvenile detention facility at Tobchi. Forty-five adult detainees showing marks of abuse were medically-screened, treated, and transferred to the "Site 1" INP facility. An additional ninety were transported to an INP facility at FOB Justice.

4. (SBU) On June 5, Post and MNF-I returned to Site 4 (which is now visited daily by MNF-I's Special Police Training Team (SpiTT)) in support of three Iraqi judges tasked by the HJC with taking possession of all detainee files on site. (These files will be stored in HJC offices while HJC staff match files to a Site 4 roster passed to the HJC by Post and MNF-I). MOI personnel initially resisted surrendering the files to the HJC, but after several hours' argument they complied upon presentation of a written judicial order.

5. (SBU) Follow-up inspections and interviews by MNF-I have recorded allegations of physical abuse from 315 detainees, many of whom identify the same group of five to six MOI officials as the perpetrators of abuse at the Site 4 facility. A number of detainees have offered to testify in court against their abusers; Post and MNF-I are in contact with judicial officials on this matter. MOI is rumored to have "detained but not arrested" the Site 4 Commander and a handful of unnamed other personnel.

-------------------------------------- CENTRALIZATION AND SEVERE OVERCROWDING -

6. (SBU) As noted in reftels, severe overcrowding is characteristic of many MOI INP detention facilities. However, the situation at Site 4 has been exacerbated by the recent MOI decision to transfer hundreds of detainees from other Baghdad INP facilities (including Forward Operating Base (FOB) Justice) to two adjoining facilities inside the Site 4 complex, near MOI Headquarters.

7. (SBU) As a result, both Site 4 facilities (one BAGHDAD 00001960 002 OF 003 newly-renovated) are well over acceptable capacity. Detainees in Most cells have insufficient space to lie down and must sit entwined, knee-to-knee. Air circulation is poor, and the cellblocks are fetid. The few toilets available are overflowing, and sewage spills onto the floors. Many detainees, who are allowed little or no access to fresh air, suffer from lice, scabies, and infections. Food supply is adequate, but running water is limited to 1-2 hours per evening.

----------------------- NATURE OF PHYSICAL ABUSE ------------------------

8. (SBU) Of the forty-one detainees interviewed on May 30 who displayed bruising, broken bones, and lash-marks, many claimed to have been hung by handcuffs from a hook in the ceiling and beaten on the soles of their feet and their buttocks. A hook was discovered on the ceiling of an empty room at the facility; attached was a chain-and-pulley system ordinarily used for lifting vehicles. Apparent bloodspots stained the floor underneath. (NOTE: The pulley was confiscated and is now at Post. END NOTE.)

9. (SBU) A number of juvenile detainees, mostly young teenagers, alleged sexual abuse at the hands of MOI personnel -- specifically, that MOI interrogators had used threats and acts of anal rape to induce confessions and had forced juveniles to fellate them during interrogations. These allegations were also raised independently with inspectors by adult detainees who claimed knowledge of juvenile rapes.

-------------- MOI's REACTION --------------

10. (C) MOI personnel at Site 4 made some desultory attempts to prevent Post and MNF-I from interviewing abused detainees. Site 4 guards initially refused access to the May 30 inspection team, citing MOI orders, and on June 1 guards were caught attempting to hide four abused detainees in a guard tower during a follow-on SPiTT inspection. MOI facility management threatened detainees during both inspections, warning them not to "talk to the Americans."

11. (C) MOI officials appear to have been comfortable engaging in large-scale violence against detainees at a well-known Baghdad facility that had been officially inspected twice since December 2005 (and visited unofficially six times by Post), indicating that MOI's capture-and-confess culture is unabashedly tolerant of physical abuse. In the words of MOI official Colonel Adnan (1st INP Division) at Site 4 on June 1, ostensibly investigating abuse, "detainees guilty of some crimes deserve to be beaten."

---------------- THE PERPETRATORS ----------------

12. (C) Colonel Ali (Site 4 Commander) and General Adnan Thabit (INP Commander) informed Post and MNF-I some days ago that the "sole" three individuals responsible for abusing detainees at Site 4 had been detained at the MOI Site 1 detention facility. Eleven MOI personnel, including the doctor posted to Site 4, were identified by detainees on June 1 as perpetrators; additional names were provided to MNF-I on June 5.

13. (C) COMMENT: It would be difficult, if not impossible, for senior MOI INP leadership responsible for Site 4 to be unaware of the prevalence of detainee abuse at the facility. This is suggested by the large number of detainees with serious physical injuries present at Site 4, the obvious and illegal presence of 37 juveniles, and the fact that hooks and pulleys used to hang detainees from the ceiling were kept in plain sight. END COMMENT.

14. (C) According to latest information from CPATT, Colonel Ali and several other MOI officers (primarily from the Special Intelligence Directorate) have been "detained but not arrested" -- a not-uncommon practice at MOI. Detainees currently held at Site 1 are being interviewed by MNF-I. Many of the formerly-abused detainees now at Site 1 have BAGHDAD 00001960 003 OF 003 offered to testify in court against their abusers.

---------- NEXT STEPS ----------

15. (C) In the immediate future, Post and MNF-I will press the HJC to order the transfer of all underage detainees to the MOLSA facility at Tobchi. We will also show regular presence at Site 4 and at facilities to which Site 4 detainees have been evacuated in order to check on medical needs, availability of food and water, and quality of care offered. The HJC has pledged to review files seized from Site 4 to determine which detainees are held subject to a valid judicial order.

16. (C) Ambassador briefed PM Maliki on June 5 regarding the size and seriousness of the abuse at Site 4. Maliki was, in his words, "appalled" at what happened there. He has already appointed a committee headed by the Ministers of Justice and Civil Society to deal with the situation. They will have access to inspect detention facilities, and victims of torture and children will be released.

17. (C) We will provide full briefings to the Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice of the HJC, and the Minister of Civil Society and then follow up with them on GOI actions. Post is requesting that the GOI and Iraqi courts: (i) impose immediate administrative sanctions against MOI officials responsible for the facility, pending a judicial investigation and criminal charges; (ii) order the release of all detainees found at Site 4 who are not detained on the basis of a valid judicial order; and (iii) undertake a robust criminal investigation of abuse allegations related to MOI personnel at the Site 4 facility.

18. (C) Post also will engage the Minister of Justice to plan for the transfer of Site 4 detainees who merit further detention to MOJ custody. This transfer will require MOJ to take control of and staff the newly-renovated MOI detention facility at Baladiyat, which has a capacity of 750. (NOTE: MNF-I will, if required, set up additional temporary tent housing within the Baladiyat complex.


------- COMMENT -------

19. (C) COMMENT: While the overcrowding, lack of sanitation, disease, and under-supply of food and water at Site 4 are typical of many MOI detention facilities (and were observed at Site 4 in December 2005 and February 2006), the physical abuse documented by inspectors May 30-June 5 is the most severe and widespread since the November 2005 discovery of seriously-injured detainees at the MOI Jadiriyah "Bunker" facility.

20. (C) COMMENT CONT'D: MOI guards and interrogators at Site 4 appear to have engaged in illegal and violent acts openly and with impunity. The frank admissions of MOI personnel that individual detainees merit physical abuse and the lackadaisical efforts to conceal that abuse support the contention -- raised by multiple Iraqi interlocutors -- that today's INP are not only incapable of conducting detention operations to acceptable standards, but are unwilling to do so.