The Danish Defence Ministry received documentation in 2004 showing that
prisoners were liable to abuse by Iraqi police, but Danish soldiers were
allowed to continue to detain Iraqis and hand them over according to
Information, which says the ministry withheld the documentation from
It was during an inspection of the Al Makil prison in Basra in June 2004 that
the Danish battalion saw the brutal methods used by the Iraqi police. Eight
of 15 prisoners said they had been abused by officers, with several showing
physical signs of abuse in the form of scars, burns and other physical
“My impression was that it was quite normal for them to be beaten by the
police into confessions for something or other,” says Danish Battalion Legal
Officer Kurt Borgkvist, who took part in the inspection.
While Denmark was not directly responsible for any of the eight prisoners, the
Danish battalion had at that point handed over 113 prisoners to local
police. The Defence Ministry knew that information about prisoner abuse was
controversial, and had ordered Defence Command Denmark several weeks
previously to report ‘any abuse of detainees, irrespective of whether they
have been in Danish custody’.
Information on the abuse was written into an inspection report sent to the
Defence Ministry. But when the Parliamentary Defence Committee asked then
Liberal Defence Minister Søren Gade for the report, passages involving abuse
were blacked out. The reason given was that the information could harm
“This information shifts the discussion about prisoner handovers. Up to now we
have discussed whether the defence forces should have known that there was a
risk of torture in Iraqi custody,” Amnesty International Legal Officer Claus
Juul tells Information.
“Now we know for certain that they were aware of the risk early on.
Nonetheless they did not act on the information and even kept the
information from Parliament with a dubious excuse,” he adds.
Information has been unable to reach Søren Gade.
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