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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 03:16 GMT 04:16 UK
Iraq abuse 'came from US policy'
A group of bound Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq in this undated photo. (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
Photos of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners have shocked the world
A human rights group says the torture and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers was due to a decision to circumvent international law.

Human Rights Watch says the "horrors" photographed at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail were the direct result of a policy to ignore the Geneva Conventions.

The Bush administration has said that these were the acts of individuals.

Human Rights Watch has challenged the government to prove this by releasing all relevant government documents.

"Abu Ghraib resulted from decisions made by the Bush administration to cast the rules aside," says Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report.

"Basically the mindset was anything goes," said Reed Brody, a lawyer for the group.

HRW says the abuses came out of the Bush administration's decision to ignore domestic and international laws after the 11 September terror attacks.

Human Rights Watch says this led to the United States creating offshore, off-limits prisons like Guantanamo Bay and also sending prisoners to other countries where information was beaten out of them.

The report says the US also decided to ignore its own laws and international human rights law by inflicting pain and humiliation on detainees to soften them up for interrogation.

This included depriving them of sleep for prolonged periods, hooding them and holding them naked.

The report says that for the past two years the US government covered up or failed to act on repeated serious allegations of torture and abuse until the publication of the photos from Abu Ghraib prison sparked international outrage.

The BBC's Janat Jalil
"The Bush administration denies having a policy to torture or abuse detainees"

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