Group Says Abu Ghraib Case Part of Pattern

The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 27, 2005; 9:52 PM

NEW YORK -- Muslims in U.S. custody have been tortured and mistreated at dozens of detention facilities around the world, according to a Human Rights Watch report issued a year after notorious Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos were made public.

In the report, released Wednesday, the human rights watchdog summarized allegations of abuse at U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba _ and reiterated a call for a probe into which U.S. officials may have had roles in the mistreatment.

The New York-based organization urged the U.S. attorney general's office to appoint a special counsel to investigate, and called on Congress to create a commission to probe the issue.

"Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg," Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Government data show 108 people have died in U.S. custody in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including deaths attributed to natural causes. Twenty-seven deaths have been investigated as criminal homicides involving possible abuse.

The report cited those figures and detailed other allegations of abuse including beatings, sleep deprivation and exposure to extreme cold in Afghanistan, and subjecting detainees in Iraq to sleep deprivation as well as placing them in stressful positions.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch issued a report calling for a criminal investigation of senior U.S. intelligence and military officials who may have condoned or ignored the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. The organization took no stance on the culpability of the officials but said an investigation was warranted.

The Pentagon has said dozens of incidents of confirmed prisoner abuse were the work of low-level soldiers and a few inattentive midlevel officers.

Human Rights Watch is a private non-governmental organization that conducts fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses around the world.