Iraqi torture known to Danish Ministry

According to reports released by WikiLeaks last week, Danish officials continued to hand over detainees to Iraqi authorities until 2005, despite reports of torture in the country’s prisons dating back to 2003.

In an article by Politiken, former Foreign Minister and current Social Liberal Defence Policy Spokesman Niels Helveg Petersen said, “It shows that all the system’s red lights were on. And instead of doing something about it, the government was compliant and didn’t act. A scandal.”

According to a memo released by the WikiLeaks whistleblower website, a Danish Defence Ministry official asked for details on what happened at the American Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after media reports of torture and abuse in 2003. Danish soldiers continued to hand over prisons to the facility, however, even after the torture was officially confirmed several months later.

“That Denmark didn’t intervene in time simply shows that someone must have stopped the criticism at the political level”, said Social Democratic Defence Spokesman John Dyrby Paulsen. “That is also why we want an inquiry into all of this”, he added.

The WikiLeaks documents also show how the torture of prisoners by Iraqi authorities was reported by Denmark’s coalition partners. According to Politiken’s study of the Defence Ministry documents, the knowledge of the abuse was widespread.

Danish soldiers reported to Army Operational Command in December 2004 that they had to intervene because Iraqi officers were beating the prisoners so badly. This prompted the Danish Defence Minister Soren Gade to ask for an examination into the procedures for prisoner handovers.

Despite this, however, in January 2005, Danish Defence Ministry officials were still downloading internet articles about the continued abuse of prisoners in Iraq and inmates were still being handed from Danish soldiers to Iraqi authorities four months later.

“This shows that there must have been a set of information at the political level with (former Prime Minister) Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his ministers that was held back from the public and Parliament. That calls for an inquiry,” said Socialist people’s Party Defence Spokesman Holger K Nielsen.

Photo: Ole Steen

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