To rid his special police units of prisoner abuses and human rights violations, Iraq’s Interior minister has fired three top special police commanders and disbanded a rogue internal affairs unit, said the U.S. general who advises the minister on training and operations.
In an interview with The Washington Times, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson detailed those and other measures taken to reform the ministry’s operations and deal with charges that Iraqi police have formed death squads and tortured prisoners at secret sites.
The special police commanders who were dismissed headed the 2nd Brigade of Commandos and the Public Order Division’s 1st and 2nd brigades.
The 2nd Brigade of Commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, had a fearsome reputation matching its nickname. It has been renamed the Freedom Brigade to soften its image, Peterson told The Times.
Peterson told the paper he had recommended the brigade commander’s dismissal after the commander told a coalition adviser that it was necessary to inflict pain on detainees to get them to talk. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr immediately obliged, he said.
In November, U.S. forces found 166 prisoners held under cramped conditions at a bunker in a Baghdad area called Jadrya. Many were suffering from hunger or abuse.
“Inevitably, there will be a portion [of Iraqi police] that are not abiding by the rule of law and not protective of human rights,” Peterson is reported as saying.