Iraq: Young citizen killed following severe torture

30.07.19

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)expresses deep concern over the death of a young man, Maher Radi Abdulhussain, 36, who died after being severely tortured at a Combating Crime Center in Al-Ghari district in Najaf city, southwest of Baghdad.

The autopsy report issued on 25 July 2019 made clear the existence of signs of torture on his body, that remained 10 days after his death, including signs of restrictions, flagellation, and bruising. The cause of death is "severe renal failure resulting from torture," according to the report. The autopsy was performed by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Directorate of Health in Najaf City and signed by Dr. Reda Hussain, a forensic medicine specialist and Department Director, and Dr. Zaher Habib, a forensic medicine practitioner.

According to local reports, Abdulhussain was arrested for alleged theft with a group of persons on 10 July 2019. He was never found guilty despite the continuous five-day investigation, which was accompanied by severe torture. Despite his presumed innocence, he was not released. Abdulhussain was referred to the hospital by the investigation officers after his health deteriorated and he died a few hours later on 15 July 2019. 

What happened to Abdulhussain blatantly contradicts Article 37 (c) of the Iraqi Constitution, which states: "All forms of psychological and physical torture and inhumane treatment shall be prohibited” and that “any confession extracted under duress, threats or torture” shall not be accepted. “The victim shall be entitled to compensation for the material and moral damage incurred in accordance with the law." 

The death by torture also deals a severe blow to Iraq's obligations under the 1984 International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the country signed in 2008. 

While denouncing the torture of Maher Radhi Abdilhussain, GCHR also expresses deep concern that human rights defenders, including journalists and Internet activists, could be at risk of torture in detention. 

GCHR hence calls upon the Government of Iraq to:

  1. Conduct an independent, impartial and thorough investigation into Maher Radhi Abdilhussain’s death as a result of torture, according to the forensic report, with a view to publishing the results of the investigation, and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  2. Ensure that such an incident is never repeated by prohibiting the use of torture as a means of extracting confessions in all police stations and headquarters of the security forces; including by training all security personnel on the principles of human rights and respect for citizens to be dealt with in accordance with the law.