US Fails to Provide Redress to Iraqi Torture Victims at Abu Ghraib, Says HRW
Story Code : 1083991
HRW's report, published on Monday, reveals that there is no evidence that the US government has compensated victims or issued individual apologies.
Between 2003 and 2009, during the US occupation of Iraq, approximately 100,000 Iraqis were held by the US and its coalition allies. Human rights organizations documented instances of torture and ill-treatment by US forces during this period, prompting an apology from then-pesident George W. Bush, who referred to it as "disgraceful conduct by a few American troops."
Despite promises of compensation made by then-US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2004, HRW notes that it never materialized. Some victims attempted to seek compensation through the Foreign Claims Act, but they faced obstacles, including a combat exclusion clause and a two-year limit for filing claims.
The report also highlights that Iraqi claims for justice in US courts were dismissed due to a 1946 law that grants US forces immunity for claims arising from military activities during wartime.
HRW mentions that lawsuits against military contractors have progressed through the courts, but they have faced significant challenges and delays since the late 2000s.
Sarah Yager, Washington director at HRW, stated, "Twenty years on, Iraqis who were tortured by US personnel still have no clear path for filing a claim or receiving any kind of redress or recognition from the US government."
The report includes the testimony of Taleb al-Majli, a former detainee at Abu Ghraib, who has not received compensation or recognition for the torture he endured. He described the abuse he suffered, including being blindfolded, mocked, and subjected to various forms of torture.
HRW's report indicates that only 97 US soldiers implicated in 38 abuse cases reviewed by the US Army Criminal Investigation Division received punishments. Out of those cases, only 11 soldiers faced court martial and served prison sentences.
The organization also notes that there is no public evidence that any US military officer has been held accountable for crimes committed by subordinates under the doctrine of command responsibility. Efforts for accountability have been rebuffed by presidents from Bush to Joe Biden.
Although efforts have been made to establish stricter controls on the treatment of detainees in US custody abroad, HRW argues that these measures have failed to address the past harm suffered by individuals in US custody in Iraq, many of whom have not seen their cases investigated or acknowledged for 20 years.