Unlawful detentions in Iraq by US pose great challenge: UN chief


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday that the detention of thousands of people in Iraq by the US-led forces without due process remains a major human rights challenge in the Middle East country.

It is an apparent violation of international law, Annan said in a report presented to the UN Security Council.

Quoting data from the Iraqi Justice Ministry, the report said 6, 000 of the country's some 10,000 prisoners as of April are in the hands of the multinational force commanded by the United States.

"Despite the release of some detainees, their number continues to grow," the report said.

"Prolonged detention without access to lawyers and courts is prohibited under international law including during states of emergency," it said, noting that one of the major human rights challenges in Iraq remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process.

Analysts said that although Resolution 1546 adopted by the Security Council on Wednesday authorized the US-led forces to stay in Iraq, the US military has no right to keep holding prisoners after the handover of power to the Iraqis. Such detention should be seen as an apparent violation of the Geneva Convention, they said.