COPENHAGEN, Denmark – An international group that works with torture victims called on the United States and Britain Tuesday to stop the way they interrogate and treat inmates detained in prisons in Iraq.
Photographs of prisoners being abused and humiliated by U.S. troops in Iraq have sparked worldwide condemnation.
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon (search) said Monday that published photos of British troops look "increasingly like a hoax." The Daily Mirror newspaper, which published the pictures and has stood staunchly by them, said the government had not proved the pictures were fake.
"The torture by British and U.S. soldiers of Iraqi prisoners is indeed tragic news," said Bhogendra Sharma, president of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (search). "The photos that have been published clearly document the use of torture."
Images showed naked prisoners stacked in a human pyramid, being forced to simulate sex acts and a naked Iraqi prisoner being terrorized by guard dogs.
"Freedom and democracy can never be achieved through torture," Sharma said. "It must be a priority for the international community, including for the United States as the only remaining superpower, to stop torture to create a more free and democratic world."
Soldiers accused of being involved in torture must be brought to justice and the victims should be treated, according to the center.
The Copenhagen-based IRCT has 170 centers in more than 70 countries working on rehabilitating torture victims. The center also gathers documentation on torture, which is divided into physical and psychological techniques, both which aim at extending the victims' pain and fear for as long as possible without leaving visible evidence.
The purpose of torture is to destroy a personality and make a person lose its self-esteem, Camelia Doru, IRCT vice president said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
"Being undressed and being watched by foreigners, by guards, by people from the opposite sex is an enormous humiliation" for Arabs, said Doru, a medical doctor. She added torture can have different effect in different cultures.
"Things that for us may not be so serious and damaging, can be devastating for them," said Doru.
Created in 1985, the independent, health professional NGO receives funds from several European governments and the European Union (search).