London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Ann Clwyd, British lawmaker and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s human rights envoy to Iraq said yesterday, that detainees in Iraq were being better treated than in past years but “it is difficult for anyone to be 100 percent sure”. She denied Iraq was in the throes of civil war, as Iraqis whom she spoke to on a daily basis assure her this was not the case and religious leaders were exerting all their efforts to curb inflamed emotions.
Clwyd, appointed by Blair as his representative in Iraq following the 2003 invasion, expressed her deep dismay at the disappearance of several detainees in Iraq in statements to the Observer newspaper Sunday.
The Labour MP who has closely followed events in Iraq for more than twenty-five years said she was “deeply dismayed” by the rise in the number of individuals still detained in Iraq. She called on Baghdad to issue a report on former detainees who said they were tortured in Iraqi jails. “One does in fact feel people were disappearing in what looked like black holes. This is very difficult.” She also spoke about the need to make “greater efforts” to trace the disappeared, While pointing out that “mistakes were made”, Clwyd said the US forces had registered the names of detainees in Arabic and, at times, in English. She related the tale of two prisoners she had been following since the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. “I spent weeks and days” trying to locate the whereabouts of an old Iraqi woman but only succeeded in discovering her whereabouts after visiting Washington D.C and enlisting the held pf former Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The woman, later released by U.S forces, was abused in prison. The other individual, an elderly man, remains unaccounted for.
“These cases occurred during the war and before the former regime was ousted from power. I have visited several Iraqi, British and U.S detention centres”, she said.
When asked whether she felt detainees were better treated, the Labour MP said, “Yes, this is what I believe.” But she declined to compare the treatment of detainees by the American, British and Iraqi forces and would not comment on the view that detainees of US forces received the worse treatment.
On the ongoing debate about civil war in Iraq, Clwyd said, “I do not believe this is true. I speak to Iraqis and others inside the country almost daily. They have told me religious leaders are making great efforts to rein in the people and not allow civil strife to break out. It will be shameful for civil war to break out now as a time when efforts are being made to put the final touches to the national coalition government that is in the process of being formed.”