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Harsh Interrogation Tactics Banned In Iraq

15 May 2004 -- The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq has banned the use of virtually all coercive interrogation techniques in the wake of the scandal over U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.

The techniques included forcing prisoners to crouch for long periods of time, depriving them of sleep, forcing them to wear hoods, and threatening them with dogs.

Media reports quote U.S. defense officials as saying Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez will still consider requests to hold prisoners in isolation for more than 30 days, but that he would deny requests to use other harsh methods.

The news comes as another U.S. soldier has been charged over the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghurayb prison. In all, seven U.S. soldiers have been charged. It has already been announced that four of them will face military trials, with the first one due to begin on 19 May.

Yesterday, some 300 Iraqi prisoners were released from Abu Ghurayb. Several of them told journalists they had been abused and humiliated by U.S. guards.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has launched a second investigation into prisoner abuse in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tucker Mansager said on 15 May that the U.S.-led coalition has been notified of a new allegation of mistreatment. He did not elaborate.

Last week, a previous detainee -- a former Afghan police colonel -- said he had been sexually abused in 2003.

Mansager said coalition forces are committed to ensuring all detainees are treated humanely and consistent with international law.

Hundreds of suspects are being held by the U.S.-led coalition in detention centers around the country.

Human Rights Watch alleges that abuses of Afghan prisoners are "systemic" and not limited to a few cases.