GENEVA - Torture in Iraq may
be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein, with militias,
terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the humane treatment of prisoners, the U.N. anti-torture chief
Nowak, the U.N. special [chief] investigator on torture [since 2004], made the remarks as he was presenting a report on detainee
conditions at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay as well as to brief the U.N. Human Rights Council, the global body's top rights
watchdog, on torture worldwide. Reports from Iraq indicate that torture "is totally
out of hand," he said. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein."
Nowak added, "That means something, because the torture methods applied under Saddam Hussein were the worst you could imagine." Some allegations of torture were undoubtedly credible, with government forces among
the perpetrators, he said, citing "very serious allegations of torture within the official Iraqi detention centers.""You have
terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias. There are so many people who are actually
abducted, seriously tortured and finally killed," Nowak told reporters at the U.N.'s European headquarters. "It's not just
torture by the government. There are much more brutal methods of torture you'll find by private militias," he said.
report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office cited worrying evidence of
torture, unlawful detentions, growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in "honor killings" of women. Iraq's government, set up in 2006, is "currently facing a generalized breakdown of
law and order which presents a serious challenge to the institutions of Iraq" such as police and security forces and the legal
system, the U.N. report said, noting that torture was a major concern. Nowak
has yet to make an official visit to Iraq and said such a mission would be unfeasible as long as
the security situation there remains perilous. He based his comments on interviews with people during a visit to Amman, Jordan, and other sources.
find these bodies with very heavy and very serious torture marks," he said. "Many
of these allegations, I have no doubt that they are credible."
to the U.N. report, the number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high that is far greater than initial
estimates suggested, the U.N. report said Wednesday. It attributed many of the
deaths to rising sectarian tensions that have pushed Iraq toward civil war.
Press writers Bradley S. Klapper in Geneva and Nick Wadhams at the
United Nations contributed
to this report.