As U.S. and Iraqi troops flood Baghdad’s neighborhoods, the jails are also filling up, Newsweek reports. The Ministry of Human Rights says the number of Iraqis detained nationwide from the end of January until the end of March jumped by about 7,000 to 37,641. Some detainees are falling into a kind of legal limbo, held for weeks without a hearing. The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, told American advisers paired up with Iraqi units: “It is very important that we never turn a blind eye to abuses, thinking that what Iraqis do with their own detainees is ‘Iraqi business’.”
Many prisoners never file reports for fear of retaliation, and U.S. investigators often face what Newsweek calls “a wall of obfuscation.” Some detainees say their Iraqi jailers threatened to kill them if they talked to the Americans. On more than one occasion at one prison, guards reportedly hid underage detainees in guard towers during inspections. A handful of serious abuse cases are being investigated at the facility by a joint committee of Americans and Iraqis, and formal indictments may be issued soon.