Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Amnesty: U.S. Abusing Rights

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Amnesty International accused U.S. troops Sunday of "very severe" human rights abuses in Iraq and complained that it had been denied access to thousands of prisoners held without charge in "appalling" conditions.

Amnesty spokeswoman Judit Licea said some Iraqis had been forced to stand under the blistering sun for up to 48 hours in U.S.-run detention centers that lack proper sanitation and that relatives had no information on their plight.

One detainee was shot dead by U.S. troops during a prison riot last month, she said in an interview in Baghdad.

"We are disappointed that human rights were used as an excuse to go to war in Iraq and now the human rights of Iraqis are being violated," she said.

A team from the London-based independent rights watchdog is visiting Iraq to take testimony from those held and released by U.S. forces and to try and speak to some of those still held.

While some Iraqis detained by invading troops have been released, many remain in prisons with no access to a lawyer or families, Licea said.

U.S. military authorities have repeatedly turned down Amnesty's requests for access to those jails, Licea said.

Licea alleged that American soldiers shot and killed detainee Alaa Jassem on June 13 while trying to contain prisoners rioting against poor conditions in an Iraqi prison.

When Amnesty tried to investigate prison conditions it got similar answers from U.S. soldiers every time, Licea said.

"They just cite security reasons for not giving information. But we know from ex-prisoners that many have not bathed properly for months and there is no sanitation."

U.S. troops, who have lost 37 of their comrades to attacks since major combat was declared over on May 1, have struggled to impose order since they toppled Hussein. Many fear for their lives and so prefer to trust no one on the streets.

But Licea said this was prolonging a vicious circle of mistrust as soldiers were heavy handed in arrests and searches.