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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraqi TV Confessions Criticized

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- As she tells it, security forces put her in solitary confinement for days, whipped her with electric cables and accused her of having sex with a stranger. Humiliated, the 46-year-old Iraqi housewife went before a TV camera and "confessed" to helping insurgents. It didn't matter that her confession was a lie, Khalida Zakiya said.

Zakiya appeared on a much-touted Iraqi television program that airs confessions of alleged insurgents. The show has won the praise of security officials who credit it with boosting Iraqis' confidence in security forces, hurting the insurgency.

But the program has come under criticism from Iraqi lawyers, former detainees and families of suspects who accuse security officials of abusing suspects to extract the confessions, a practice reminiscent of Saddam Hussein's era.

Iraq's acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was aware of the allegations and had written to the interior and justice ministries about them.

The program, which airs nightly, began in February. Officials say they do not know exactly how many alleged confessions have been televised, and some episodes have been repeated. But they believe the number is in the hundreds.

The Iraqi lawyers association, however, has suggested the purported confessions are based more on fear than on fact. In a recent report, the association named 27 people it said were alive despite televised statements by people claiming to have killed them.