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Statement: Stop Outsourcing of Torture

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other forms torture and ill treatment. Independent monitors, such as the International
Committee of the Red Cross or organizations such as Amnesty International and
others, must be given access to ensure detainees are treated humanely in accordance
with US and International law and standards. Violators must be subject to Investigation
and prosecution by an independent judicial process that meets US and international
standards of fairness. And the US government must withdraw the reservations and
understanding it placed upon ratifying the Convention Against Torture, and signal to
the world its unequivocal support for upholding the treaty obligations.

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President Bush, in his inauguration address, stated that "all who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." Sadly, it appears the United States is willing to ignore countries records of torture when it delivers detainees into their prison cells and when it turns a blind eye to oppressors who torture their captives.

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Congressman Markey has called this nefarious practice what it is: "morally repugnant." Many of us believe that the United States must do better and that the country's founders would roll over in their graves to know of such abuse. Congressman Markey, we applaud your initiative, support the principles your bill seeks to address, and look forward to working with you to find effective ways to end renditions and restore American leadership in International human rights.

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, GUANTANAMO—AN ICON

OF LAWLESSNESS," JANUARY 6, 2005

Public

amnesty international

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Guantánamo - an icon of lawlessness'

6 January 2005

Al Index: AMR 51/002/2005 Imagine this.

Hundreds of US nationals are picked up around the world by a foreign government fighting a “war for national security". The government in question is reacting to evidence that a recent bombing on its territory which left thousands of civilians dead was instigated by a shadowy nalwork based in thc United States. Thc dclainccs, according lo cvidence the detaining power says it has bul resuses lo reveal, are in some way associated with this network. The detainccs, a few of them children, arc strapped, shackled and blindfoldcd, into transport planes. Some are forced to urinate and defecate on themselves during the long flights to an island military base. In this offshore prison camp they are held incommunicado in tiny cells, denied access to lawyers, relatives or the courts, and subjected to repeated interrogations and a punitive regime aimed at encouraging their "cooperation”. A presidential order announces plans to try some of the detainees in front of executive bodies with the power to hand down death sentences against which there would be no right of appeal to any court.

The months turn into years. Allegations of torture and ill-treatment of the US detainees emerge from the island base, as do reports of psychological deterioration and suicide attempts among the detainees. Interrogation teams are said to have access to the medical files of the detainees in order to help them locale individual weaknesses. The duaining power admits to having authorized interrogation techniques including slucp deprivation, stress positions, isolation, hooding, sensory deprivation and the use of dogs to induce fear. Evidence mounts that these and other techniques have been more widely used than the authorities are willing to admit. It becomes known that the detaining power earlier discussed how its agents could avoid prosecution for torture and war crimes committed during interrogations in the "war for national security”.

Some detainees are released back to the USA, appearing to have had no or only very tenuous links to the shadowy network. At every turn, the detaining power continues to resist efforts to have the lawfulness of the hundreds of remaining detentions challenged in court. All the time, it continues to profess its commitment to the rule of law and human rights. Its words are increasingly recognized as endly rhetoric, but some other governments begin to imitate its practices, using the “war for national security" as a pretext for their own repressive conduct.

Would the USA tolerate this treatment of ils cilizens by another government? Would the international community accept this thrcat to the rule of law and human rights? Surcly not, and yet thc USA continucs lo perpcirale just such abuscs in the far from hypothclical Guantánamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, where almost 550 detainees of more than 30 nationalities remain detained without charge or trial. On 11 January 2005, the Guantánamo prison will enter its fourth year. In its more than 1,000 days of executive detentions,

example il sets is of a world where basic human rights are negotiable rather than universal Such a world, although built in thc name of national sccurily, is dangerous lo us all.

The question of lawfulness in relation to Guantánamo can be divided into four calegories: the legal limbo of the detainees; their treatment and conditions; secrecy and the suffering of samily members; and thc planned trials by military commission. The continuing legal limbo More than six months after the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts can hear appeals from the Guantánamo detainees, it is not because of the slowness of the legal system thal hundreds remain held without charge or trial and virtually incominunicado in the naval base. It is the result of a government seeking to drain the Supreme Court ruling of any real meaning and aiming lo keep any revicw of delcntions as far from a judicial process as possible.

The US administration responded to the June 2004 decision by establishing the Combalant Status Revicw Tribunal (CSRT), pancls of thrcc military officers whose solc aim is to confirm or reject each detainee's status as a so-called “enemy combatant”. This is neither a court of law, nor the "competent tribunal” required by the Third Geneva Convention. Unlike the latter which presumes a detainee to be a prisoner of war until proved otherwise, the CSRT process places the burden on the detainee to disprove his “enemy combatant” status. The detainee does not have access to legal counsel or to secret evidence. Many have boycotted the CSRT process, and to date only two have been released as a result of it, while 230 have been confirmed as “enemy combatants”.

Lach detainee confirmed as an “enemy combatant” will also have an annual review of his case by an Administrative Review Board (ARB) to assess whether he "continues to pose a threat to the United States or its allies, or whether there are other factors bearing upon the need for continucd detention". In December 2004 thc Pentagon announced that it had conducted its first ARB. Again, detainees have no access to lawyers or to secret evidence for this administrative revicw. Evidence extracted under torture or other cocrcion could be admitted by either body.

Also in December, six months after the US Supreme Court's ruling, the government notificd thc dctainces that they can filc habeas corpus petitions in fcdcral court. It cven gave them the address of a US District Court in which to file them. In this Kafkaesque world of Guantánamo, however, the government has argued to that very same court that the detainees have no basis in constitutional or international law on which to challenge the lawfulness of their detentions. It maintains that review by the Combatant Status Review Tribunal and the Administrative Review Board is more than susficient due process. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the detainees have still not had access to lawyers.

In Amnesty International's view, international human rights law applies to all the Guantánamo detainees, and as such each and every one of them has the right to full judicial review of his detention and to relcasc is that detention is unlawful – a basic protection against arbitrary arrest, lorturc and “Hisappcarance". This was always the case for those numerous detainees who were picked up outside the international armed conflict in Afghanistan. However, even those captured in that war - who should have been treated as prisoners of war until a competent tribunal determined otherwise’ – are now also covered by human rights law because the international conflict in Afghanistan ended more than two years ago and their treatment by the USA remained unchanged by that fact. When the conflict ended, presumed prisoners of war were required 10 be released or charged and brought to fair trial. Although the administration claims that it is holding the detainees under the laws of war, it has refused lo apply those laws as it should havc. Previously sacrel government documents now tell us that the administration refuscd to apply the Geneva Conventions in order to free up US interrogalors and make their prosecution for war crimes less likely. There is little sign of an apologctic mood within the administration. Indeed, onc of the archilccts of this policy, While Housc Counsel Alberlo Gonzales, has been nominalcd by President Bush to thc post of Attorncy Gencral. In his draft statement to the Scnate Judiciary Committec for the nomination hearing on 6 January 2005, Alberto Gonzales says that he has a "deep and abiding commitment to the rule of law”. Je must be held to that pledge. Treatment of the detainees The very conditions in which thc dclainces are held – harsh, isolating and indesinile – can in themselves amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. There is much additional evidence that numcrous detainces in Guantánamo - as well as in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere – have been subjected to direct torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during the interrogation or detention process. This situation could be seen as an inevitable outcome where a government believes there are people "who are not legally entitled" to humane treatment, as President Bush suggested in a previously secret memorandun, daled 7 February 2002, on “war on lerror” delenlion policy. Yel no detainee anywhere, not even “killers" or "bad people”, as the President has described those held without charge or trial in Guantánamo, can cver fall outside thc prohibition on torture and illtrcatment. To suggest otherwise, as this central policy memorandum does, points to a scrious gap in a government's understanding of international law and indicates that it views human rights as privileges that can be granted, and therefore taken away, by the state."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, echoing President Bush, has described Guantánamo detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani as “a very bad person”. A harsh interrogation plan was approved for this Saudi national. According to recent revelations, Mohammed alKahtani was put on a plane, blindfolded in conditions of sensory deprivation, and made to helieve that he was being flown to the Middle Tast. After several hours in the air, the plane relurned to Guantánamo and Mohiamined al-Kahtani was allegedly put in an isolation cell and subjected to harsh interrogations conducted by people he was encouraged to believe were Egyptian sccurily agents. This is an intcrrogation lcchniquc known in thc USA as "falsc flag" and was one of several methods authorized by Secrctary Rumsfeld in April 2003. Another technique promoted by the Pentagon's April 2003 Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism is "threatening to transfer to a 3rd country where subject is likely to fear he would be tortured or killed”.

In February 2002, following President Bush's decision to reject the application of the Geneva Conventions to those held in Guantánamo, the White House gave assurances that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would be able to visit all detainees in private. The ICRC was denied access to Mohammed al-Kahtani during the period of interrogations described above. The ICRC protested such denial of access to a number of detainees in meetings with the Guantánamo authorities in late 2003. Four months later, in a inccting on 2 February 2004, thc ICRC was informed that it could still not scc one of the delainees “because of military necessity". O The detainee in question, reported to be Moroccan national Abdullah Tabarak, was transferred to Morocco in August 2004. In an interview last month, he alleged that he had been tortured and ill-treated in US custody. In Guantánamo, he said that he had been beaten, given forcible injections, and held in a dark cell which has left him with eyesight problems. He said that he suffers from other physical ailments as a result of his confinement, as well as insomnia and nightmares.

It is more than a year since the ICRC made public its concern about the serious deterioration the detention regime was having on the psychological health of the detainees. In November it emerged that it had also protested more direct torture and ill-treatment, adding yet more weight to the allegations of released detainees and others. In heavily redacted documents released to the American Civil Liberlies Union following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit siled a year carlier, FBI agents have referred to "loturc techniques" and “highly aggressivc intcrrogation Icchniqucs” being used in Guantánamo. In one email an FBI agent sends a collcaguc "an outline of coercive techniques in the military's intcrvicwing tool kit”. Of the military's interrogation plan for one particular detainee, the sender writes: “You won't believe it!” Another FBI agent reported seeing a detainee in Guantánamo “sitting on the floor of the interview room with an Israeli flag draped around him, loud music being played and a strobe light flashing”. Another tells of having witnessed the use of a dog to intimidate a Guantánamo delainee, who was also subjected to three months of isolation in a cell with 24-hour illumination. The detainee was later witnessed to be displaying conduct "consistent with cxtrcinc psychological trauma”. In an email, another FBI ageni wrote:

Here is a brief summary of whai I observed ai GTMO. On a couple of occassions (sic), I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they had urinaird or defacated (sic) on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more. On one occassion (sic), the air conditioning had been iurned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. When I asked the military police guards) what was going on, I was told that interrogators from the day prior had ordered this treatment, and the detainee was not 10 be moved. On another occassion (sic), the A/C had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room probably well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night. On another occassion (sic), not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was heing played in the room, and had been since the day hefore, with the deiainee chained hand and soon in the seial position on the vile floor.

Such evidence adds weight to carlier allcgations made by released detainuos. For example, in July 2004, Swedish national Mehdi Ghezali recalled to Amnesty International how:

One prisoner had removed his ID-strap that the prisoners were forced to wear around their wrist. As punishment, the guards shackled both his hands and feer in his cell for more than 10 hours. During this time, the prisoner was not given any food and was not allowed 10 go to the toilet, although he had 10. He could not hold himself. It was very degrading for him."

Mehdi Ghezali also described to Amnesty International the pain of “short shackling”, temperature manipulation, and the use of loud noise and music during interrogations. Ile said that he was subjected to sleep deprivation, and that Australian detainee Mandouh Ilabib had been subjected to sleep deprivation at the end of which there was blood coming from both his nose and cars." In an aslida vil recently made public, another Australian national David Hicks alleges that he has been “deprived of sleep as a maller of policy" and that he and other detainees have been subjccted 10 other forms of torture and ill-urcalment in US custody. UK national Moazzam Begg was held in isolation for 600 days.

The administration has yet to denounce such intcrrogation techniques or detention conditions. In similar vein, Amnesty International has still not reccivcd a substantive response from the US authorities to the allegation that a Chinese delegation visited Guantánamo in September 2002 and participated in interrogations of ethnic Uighurs held there. An inside source told the organization that during this time, the detainees were subjected to intimidation and threats, and other torture or ill-treatment, some of it on the instruction of the Chinese delegation. Other detainees, the source has informed Amnesty International, were subjected to

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