August 3, 2018 7:30 pm

U.S. should do more to prevent torture of suspected ISIS militants: rights group

In this May 23, 2018 photo, suspected Islamic State militants wait their turn for sentencing at the counterterrorism court in Baghdad, Iraq.

AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

Human Rights Watch says the U.S. should ensure that suspected Islamic State militants captured by its allies aren’t handed over to countries where they might be at risk of torture.

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The group said in a press release that the U.S. transferred eight Lebanese men captured in Syria to Lebanese military intelligence, which has previously been accused of torturing suspects to the point of death.

The Lebanese detainees were reportedly held for over a month without any access to their families or legal representation.

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“The U.S. should create a transparent process with strong safeguards to ensure that no ISIS suspect is transferred to a country where they are at risk of torture or an unfair trial,” said Nadim Houry, director of Human Rights Watch’s terrorism and counterterrorism program. “Transferring detainees in total secrecy without basic legal protections is a recipe for abuse.”

Syrian rebels backed by the U.S. are believed to be holding nearly 600 men from 47 countries who are accused of being Islamic State members.

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But many countries aren’t keen on taking custody of suspects because they’re not confident of being able to prosecute them, prompting Human Rights Watch to call for increased international cooperation and the prosecution of suspects by countries that have jurisdiction and can conduct fair trials.

Human Rights Watch says that while there is no easy solution to prosecuting Islamic State crimes, the torture of suspects creates “a risk that new crimes will just be piled on top of past ones.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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