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British soldiers told to humiliate, threaten and strip prisoners

Interrogation methods used by the British military in Iraq – which aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear – may be in breach of international law.

MILITARY TRAINING MANUALS used by British forces in Iraq encourage troops to use threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness as methods of gleaning information from prisoners during interrogations.

The Guardian reports that troops were trained to used methods of interrogation aimed at provoking humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners. In one Power Point slideshow, created in 2005, military interrogators are told to strip prisoners naked before questioning:

Get them naked. Keep them naked if they do not follow commands.

Another classified manual from 2008, seen by the newspaper, instructs interrogators to keep detainees feeling intimidated, in physical discomfort, and naked – adding that sensory deprivation is lawful if there are “valid operational reasons”.

More recent manuals outline that:

  • Blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for interrogations
  • Prisoners should be allowed eight hours sleep in each 24 – however they need only four hours unbroken sleep at a time
  • Interrogations ought to take place in a discreet place - preferably somewhere that looks “nasty”
  • Locations should always be “out of hearing” and “away from media”

The 1949 Geneva conventions state that any “physical or moral coercion” of prisoners is unlawful, particularly any coercion used to obtain information.

The training manuals were all created after the death of Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist in Basra, who was tortured to death by British troops in 2003. Mousa sustained 93 separate injuries while undergoing “tactical questioning” by soldiers of the 1 Battalion Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.

An inquiry into Mousa’s death heard evidence form a number of British officers who say they complained about the mistreatment of detainees at secretive interrogation facilities inside prisoner war camps, known as Joint Field Intelligence Teams (Jfits). One officer told the inquiry he saw about 30 Iraqis who had been forced to kneel in stressful positions, under the sun, with their hands cuffed behind their backs and sandbags over their heads.

The British Ministry of Defence is currently awaiting the conclusions of the inquiry into the Baha Mousa case.

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A spokesman said:

The Baha Mousa inquiry is examining in detail the MoD’s current detention practices, including the training of tactical questioning and interrogation and the MoD has given evidence on this subject. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further. We are committed to learning all possible lessons from the inquiry and are giving it our full support.

British soldiers told to humiliate, threaten and strip prisoners
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  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

  • UK military interrogation manuals discovered

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