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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 00:44 GMT 01:44 UK
ICRC still concerned on Iraq jail
Pierre Krahenbuhl
Pierre Krahenbuhl: Treatment at Abu Ghraib was degrading
The Red Cross says it still has concerns about the treatment of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail.

A senior official told BBC One's Panorama programme that not all issues in a confidential report issued in February had been dealt with.

The ICRC says it has asked for further changes to be made.

The US has said that the ICRC made their concerns known directly to the US command in Baghdad last autumn and that some corrective actions were taken.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told Middle East leaders last weekend: "Watch America. Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing."

He said that President George W Bush was committed to correcting the problem.

The US military has banned the use of stress positions and other severe interrogation techniques.

A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defence said that the British army "takes allegations of abuse very seriously and will investigate them fully".


In the Panorama interview, the ICRC's Director of Operations Pierre Krahenbuhl said that "there were still certain areas of concern during our visit in March.

"We felt that some of the findings and recommendations that we submitted have been taken seriously, that on some issues corrective measures were taken.

Some of the aspects that we documented appeared to us to be tantamount to torture
Pierre Krahenbuhl

"But there remained areas of concern for which we did request further measures to be taken and would continue to look at and follow up visits regularly."

Speaking about the original report in February, Mr Krahenbuhl added: "We had identified a series of elements and patterns in terms of treatment and conditions that appeared to us contrary to some of the provisions contained in the Geneva Conventions.

"Some of the aspects that we documented appeared to us to be tantamount to torture, certainly elements of inhuman and degrading treatment."

In the February report, the Red Cross detailed jail inspections made in Iraq between May and November 2003, during which period 29 visits to prison facilities in central and southern Iraq were made.

The report says there had been a pattern of abuse at prisons across Iraq, not just Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, which is the focus of allegations against US soldiers.

Corrective measures

US soldiers and detainees at Abu Ghraib prison
Jail photos shocked the world (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
Mr Krahenbuhl also spoke of the Red Cross' concerns regarding treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, and detainees at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.

He added: "The absence of a legal status having an impact on the overall emotional and psychological condition of detainees being held in what appears to be indefinite detention (in Guantanamo), and therefore undergoing what appears to be indefinite processes of interrogation.

"There were elements of treatment that we raised in our discussions with the Americans as we seeing a need for corrective measures to be taken", he added.

He also added that the Red Cross had also reported their concerns about the treatment of detainees at Bagram airbase to the authorities.

Panorama: Shamed was broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday, 19 May 2004 at 2100 BST

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