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Video of Teen Tortured by Security Forces Shocks Iraq

Video of Teen Tortured by Security Forces Shocks Iraq

Monday, 3 August, 2020 - 05:00
Iraqi demonstrators burn tires to block the road during a protest over poor public services in the city of Najaf. (Reuters)

Despite the violations, kidnappings and assassinations that have targeted activists throughout the years by Iraq’s security forces and unknown militias, the country was still shocked by a video that showed a teen being tortured by Interior Ministry forces.


The video, which emerged on Saturday and was recorded some three months ago, showed Hamed Saeed Abed, 16, being beaten and insulted by the Ministry’s Law Preservation Forces for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at them during a protest. Abed was stripped naked, while one of the security forces shaved his head. Others asked him about his mother’s skin color, insulted her and his family.


The shocking video and the ensuing uproar prompted Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to order an investigation into the assault.


His spokesman said: “The prime minister and supreme commander of the armed forces ordered an immediate probe into the unethical and unprofessional treatment of a citizen.”


He also ordered Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanmi to form an investigative panel to probe the members of the Law Preservation Forces who were seen in the video.


The force was formed by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last year to confront the wave of anti-government protests. It was rumored that its members were chosen by political parties in order to ensure their loyalty to the government and the political blocs.


The video prompted demands for the disbandment of the force and renewed the debate over the practices of the security forces against protesters and even regular citizens while they are being held in detention or being investigated.


Security members often drag out confessions by force or resort to seeking bribes from detainees.


Ghanmi had openly acknowledged such violations some two weeks ago.


A judicial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the majority of confessions by suspects detained by security forces are usually made under threat of violence.


Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the Iraq judicial system still believes that confessions are the best form of evidence even though they are often made under duress. Most judicial systems in the world, meanwhile, no longer consider confessions as damning evidence against a suspect.


Media relations director at the Interior Ministry revealed that some of the security forces members seen in the video have been arrested, while efforts are underway to arrest the rest.


They will be held to account, he vowed.


However, the Interior Ministry later issued a statement alleging that the Abed was arrested in May for his attempted robbery of a motorcycle.


Activists slammed the statement, saying the ministry was attempting justify the torture.


The ministry took one step further by later releasing a video of the boy confessing to the robbery.


The video was recorded some three months ago, but was leaked to the media on Saturday. The sides responsible for the leak are unknown and neither are their motives, but some analysts believe the move is aimed at embarrassing Kadhimi’s government.


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