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More probes into prisoners abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan

June 05, 2004 19:10 IST

The United States Army has announced 16 more criminal investigations into possible misconduct by its soldiers against detainees and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was announced on June 4. This brings to 85 the number of inquiries by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division into detainee deaths and alleged assaults and thefts by US soldiers in the two countries over the past year and a half.


Counting 22 other investigative actions by commanders in the field, the cases total 107 and involve at least 111 Iraqis and Afghans, army officials said.


The spurt in probes against alleged misconduct on part of US soldiers reflects a surge in accusations by Iraqis and Afghans after the Abu Gharib prison scandal, the officials told The Washington Post.


The widely publicized revelations about abuse of prisoners at Abu Gharib have encouraged others to come forward with complaints about any misconduct by US troops, the officials said.


Meanwhile, State Department Spokesman J Adam Ereli said that the US military justice system is capable of dealing with those responsible for the abuses. He was responding to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan's statement that the "willful killing, torture and inhuman treatment" of detainees by US forces constitutes a grave breach of international law and "might be designated as war crimes by a competent tribunal".


Ereli said the US shares the Commissioner's concern for human rights and an appreciation for the need to be ever vigilant in finding and prosecuting those guilty of violations of human rights.


"We have said that we are ashamed by the actions of those individuals who committed abuses at Abu Gharib, that those individuals will be held responsible according to clear legal standards and that process is under way. So the question of investigation, prosecution and judgment is something that we are already doing ourselves," he said.


Ereli said Abu Gharib is an issue "we take seriously… (And) we have undertaken action for some time on our own to find out what happened and make sure that it never happens again".


He claimed that the US has cooperated with the UN Commissioner in his investigation.



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