Wednesday, March 12, 2008

UN Official Denied Access to Iraq Prisons

UN Official Denied Access to Iraq Prisons

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A human rights expert says the US won't allow him to visit its detainees.

Geneva - The U.N. torture investigator said Tuesday that American officials are denying him access to U.S.-run detention facilities in Iraq, even though he has received credible reports that conditions there have improved.

Manfred Nowak, one of the United Nations' independent human rights experts, said Iraqi officials had agreed in principle that he could visit the country this year. British officials have agreed to let him visit detainees held by their forces, he said.

"The U.K. said yes, the U.S. said no," Nowak told reporters in Geneva, adding that he was still hoping to win American approval before deciding whether to travel to Iraq.

Nowak said U.S. officials told him that American-run prisons in Iraq were not subject to international human rights law because of the armed conflict, and as such were outside his area of responsibility.

A State Department official in Washington said only that the International Committee of the Red Cross had been granted full access to all of the several thousand detainees under U.S. control.

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