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Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Corruption and brutality rampant among police

July 11, 2006

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— Dozens of police officers and Interior Ministry officials have been fired on charges of corruption, bribery and human rights violations, a ministry official said Monday.

The Interior Ministry official said most were sacked during the yearlong tenure of former Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who was widely accused by Sunnis of bringing Shiite militiamen into the ranks of the ministry, which oversees Iraq's police forces.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive issue, could not say precisely how many were fired during Jabr's term, but said some 15 officers have been dismissed since new Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani took office June 8.

"Some of the officers sacked held high ranks such as major generals and lieutenant generals," the official said.

Some of the former officers were accused of corruption while others were alleged to have taken bribes from families of detainees and insurgents in order to release them, he said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that brutality and corruption are rampant in the Iraqi police forces, citing confidential Iraqi government documents detailing more than 400 police corruption investigations. The documents, which were from 2005 and 2006, also alleged that officers have beaten prisoners to death, been involved in kidnapping rings, sold thousands of stolen and forged Iraqi passports and passed along vital information to insurgents, according to the newspaper.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said recently that some police officers were referred to prosecutors for violations in prisons.

Dozens of abused prisoners were found last year in detention facilities run by the Interior Ministry. Sunni Arabs have complained about torture by the Shiite-led security forces under Jabr, who said the allegations were exaggerated by people who sympathize with the Sunni-led insurgency.

Former Human Rights Minister Nirmene Othman said in February, when she was holding the post, that she believed lower-level Interior Ministry officials were using criminals to kill Iraqis.

She added then that several Interior and Justice Ministry employees were expected to be prosecuted over the torture of about 170 Iraqis, most found in November at the Jadriyah Interior Ministry facility in Baghdad. The Interior Ministry official said that investigation is still under way for dozens of officers on similar charges.

Earlier this year, the Iraqi Defense and Interior ministries agreed to conduct all raids jointly in a bid to stop the operations of alleged death squads masquerading as police commandos.

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