We Don’t Do Detainee Counts

Or better said, “We don’t count anything, at least not correctly – funds expended, civilians killed, wounded, or displaced, paid contractors …..”

Do US, Iraqi Officials Undercount Detainees? Confusion Over the Official Number Held Raises Suspicion

An Iraqi official who heads the government committee tasked with inspecting detention facilities announced shocking figures this weekend, estimating the number of detainees held in US and Iraqi-run prisons at 67,000. The admission sparked the Iraqi government to release official numbers on Monday more in line with previous estimates.

According to Monday’s announcement, US and Iraqi prisons house a total of 42,000 detainees, precisely distributed between the two commands. “21,000 detainees are being held so far in the Multi-National forces’ detention centres and there are 21,000 others in Iraqi interior, justice and defense ministries’ jails,” Brigadier-General Abdul Karim Khalaf told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

However, Jasim Bahadeli, who leads an Iraqi government committee that inspects detention facilities, said this weekend that 36,000 detainees were held at US-run facilities, and 31,000 at Iraqi ones.

Bahadeli has been outspoken on the appalling conditions detainees are forced to endure, often for months without charge, but his criticisms are often dismissed as the unfortunate by-product of a justice system whose development is lagging.

If Bahadeli’s estimate of detainees is accurate, the implication that Iraq and US forces could be holding 20,000 more prisoners than they admit is damning. While his numbers may well be exaggerated, the figure the Iraqi government announced Monday is almost certainly underestimated.

Back in late March, the UN estimated the number of detainees held in Iraqi-run prisons was just under 20,000, which represented an influx of 3,500 since late January.

Read it here.

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