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USA: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the war on terror'



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After they brought six people and they beat them up until they dropped to the floor
and one of them his nose was cut and the blood was running from his nose and he
was screanung but no one was responding and all this hearing from (Guard X) and
[Guard Y] and another man, whom I don't know the name. The doctor came 10 siiich
the nose and (Guard X) asked the doctor to learn how 10 stitch and it's true, the
guard learned how to stiuch. He took the siring and needle and he sai down to finish
The stitching...."
One of the prisoners was bleeding from a cui he goi over his eye. Then they called
the doctor who came and fixed him. After that they started beating him again...
A military guard at Abu Ghraib wrote home about a death in custody in November
2003. He wrote that the day after his death, “the mcdics came and put his body on a
stretcher, placed a fake [intravenous drip) in his arm and took him away”.


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2.4 Access to relatives
Police continued 10 hold individuals without granting access to family members or lawyers.

US State Department human rights report entry on China, 2004


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Amnesty International issued a worldwide appeal in July 2004 for Sattam Hameed Farhan alCa'ood who had been arresicd at his hounc in Baghdad hy US soldiers on 19 April 2003." Hc had not been seen for over a year, and although his family had received a number of messages via the ICRC 10 indicate that he was in detention, his whereabouts were not specilied and remained unknown. His casc was simply referred to as HVD, thought to mean "high-valuc detainee". The US authorities would appear, however, to place a low value on his right and the right of his family to be informed of his whercabouls and the reason for his arrest.

In ils February 2004 report, the ICRC described the distress that family members in Iraq have suffered due to the systematic failure of the Coalition forces to provide information on the whereabouts of detainees. The arresting authorities “rarely informed the arrestee or his Camily where he was being laken and for how long, resulting in the de facto 'disappcarancc' of the arrestcc for wecks or cven months until contact was finally made". The ICRC continued:

In the absence of a system 10 notify the families of the whereabours of their arrested relatives, many were left without news for months, often fearing that their relatives unaccounted for were dead... [H]undreds oj samilies have had 10 wail anxiously for weeks and sometimes months before learning of the whereabouts of their relatives



Statement provided by Shalan to military investigators. 17 January 2004. hup://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/iray/abughraib/150422.swf.

Statement provided by Mustafa to military investigators, 17 January 2004. hulp://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/iraqabugıraib/150542-1.pd.

Staff Scrgcant Ivan Frederick. Copy of communications on file at Amnesty Intcmational. According to the Fay repart, this deception was “so as not to draw the attention of the Iraqi guards and detainees".

Iraq: Delained in an unknown location, http://web.amnesty.org/appeals/index/irg-010704-wwa-eng.


USA: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the war on terror



and often comu. 10 learn about their whereabours informally (through released detainees) or when the person deprived of his liberty is released and returns home."

The suffering of relatives of the disappeared” (see Point 3) has been found by the UN Human Rights Commillee lo amount to torlurc or crucl, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Similar cruely is inflicted on the relatives of people held in indefinite incommunicado detention where the authorities fail to take steps to promptly inform the family of their loved onc's arrest and whereabouts.

The family of Jamal Mar'i say that he left his native Yemen in 2001 w go to Pakistan to find work and pursue further studies. On 10 April 2004, his brother recalled: “Jamal set himself up in Karachi, Pakistan. While there, Jamal called and wrote to us regularly. It never Tell as if he was very l'ar away.” Some time alier 11 Scptember 2001, a friend lold the family that he had received a call from his son who was also in Karachi and knew Jamal. I le said that he thought Jamal had been arrested in Karachi by US agents. Jamal's brother continued:

"Some weeks later, my mother received a lelephone call from the International Committee of the Red Cross from Jordan 10 say that Jamal was detained there... Some time asier receiving the call from the ICRC, my family received a message from Jamal via the ICRC, Jordan. In this short note, Jamal said that he was held in Jordan... Then, in April 2002, we received an ICRC message from him from the ICRC in Yemen. The message had been sent from Guanianamo Bay... In November 2003 Jamal's messages stopped coming. We don't know why... We have no way of finding out how he is; whether he is healthy, even whether he is alive. My mother has taken Jamal's disappearance ihe worst. She has developed high blood pressure and often sinks into bouts of very deep depression. In many ways, it would be preferable if we knew Jamal was dead for at least then we would be able to grieve and eventually get over his deail. li's the simply not knowing whai has happened 10 hini thai allecis us all the most. If only we could hear his voice, learn that he is safe and well thoi would make our lives so much better. Jamal's wife is beside herself with worry. His young children don't understand whai has happened 10 their saiher and consianh ask where he is, why doesn't he call and when he is coming back home."

The US authorities have shown little sympathy for the plight of families of delaines, spreading a level of distress and resentment in the community.





Maria del Carmen Almeida de Quinteros, on behalf of her daughier, Elena Quinteros Almeida, and on her own behalf v. Uniguay, Cominunication No. 107/1981 (17 September 1981), UN GAOR Supp. No. 40 (N38/40) at 216 (1983), para. 14.

Affidavit of Nabil Mohamed Mar'i. 10 April 2004. Sana'a, Yemen. The suffering of relatives of detainees was clear at the conference organized by Amnesty Intemational in Sana'a. See The Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula: Human righus fall victim 10 the "War on Terror. Al Index: MDE 04/002/2004. June 2004. huip://web.amestyorglitxarv/Index/ENGMDL (10022094

For examplc, Secrctary Rumsfeld was asked if relatives would ever be able to visit dcrainces in Guantánamo. He replied, “Oh, I would doubt it... No, I would think that would be highly unlikely". Interview with the Sunday Times, 21 March 2002,



USA: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the war on terror'

2.5 Access to the courts It is during our most challenging and uncertain moments that our Nation's commitment 10 due process is most severely tested, and it is in those times that we must preserve our comuniment at home to the principles for which we fight abroad

US Supreme Court, 28 June 2004"

Central to the USA's “war on terror" detention policy has been to keep the detainees away from the courts. The administration chose Guantánamo precisely because it believed that “a district court cannot properly entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus hy an enemy alien detained at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba," although it recognized that the issue was not "desinitely resolved" in law.409 is clear that the US administration has seen its own judiciary, as well as international law, as an unwanted check on its activities.

A key safeguard against torture is for prisoners or others acting on their behalf to be able to invoke the power of the courts to challenge the legality of the detention and otherwise ensure the prisoner's safety. It can also serve as a safeguard against “disappearances" by asking the courts to locate a person who has “disappeared" (see Point 3).

In April 2004, arguing that the courts should be kept out of the administration's "war on terror” detentions, the government assured the US Supreme Court of its commitment to humanc trcalment. Al oral arguments in the case of Yascr Esam Hamdi, a US citizen designated as an “enemy combatant” and held in indefinite incommunicado detention without charge or trial since December 2001, Justice Stevens asked: “Do you think there is anything in the law thal curlails the method of interrogation that may be cuploycd'?” The government responded that “the United States is signatory to conventions that prohibit torture and that sort of thing. And the United States is going to honour its treaty obligations". "!" The official memorandums that have come into the public domain belic the government's assurances that it is committed to upholding international law and standards.

In the case of another US “enemy combatant", José Padilla, the four dissenting Justices made their feelings clear about unfettered executive power: “Even more important than the method of sclecting the people's rulers and their successors is the character of the constraints imposed on the Lxecutive by the rule of law. Unconstrained Executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber" *". During oral arguments in José Padilla's case, one of the sour, Justice Ginsburg



Hamdi v. Rumsteld, No. 03-6696, decision of 28 June 2004.

Memorandum for William Haynes, General Counsel, Department of Defense. Possibie habeas jurisdiction over aliens held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. From Patrick Philbin and John Yoo. Deputy Assistant Atwmeys General. US Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, 28 December 2001.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, oral arguments, 28 April 2004.

Rumsfeld v. Padilla, No. 03-1027, 28 June 2004 (Justice Stevens, dissenting). The Star Chamber was an English court cicated in 1487 by King Henry VII. The Chamber, comprising 20-30 judges, became notorious under Charles I's reign for handing down judgments favourable to the king and to Archbishop William 1 aud, who supported the persecution of the Puritans. It was abolished in 1641.


USA: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the 'war on terror



had asked the government: “So what is it that would be a check on torture? ... Suppose the executive says mild torture we think will get this information... Some systems do that to get information.” The government replicd: “Well, our cxccutive doesn't..."*!? This answer was inaccurate. The administration has approved interrogation techniques which violate the prohibition on torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Finding that the US courts have jurisdiction over detainees in Guantánamo, the Supreme Court in June 2004 noted thai "cxccutive imprisonment has been considered oppressive and lawless” for almost eight centuries in English law. The administration's response to this ruling has been inadequale, however. By mid-October 2004, more than three months alicr thc decision, not a singlc Guantánamo dclaincc had appcarcd in court. Or thc 68 detainees who had so far filed appeals for access to the US courts, only a small number had spoken 10 thcir lawyers. “!4 Rather than facililating judicial review, the administration has hastened a system of “Combatant Status Review Tribunals”, administrative review bodies that determine, including on secret evidence and without legal counsel for the detainees, whether thc latter are “cncmy combatants" and should remain in detention." Thc Pentagon has also said that it "believes the decision does not cover detainees held in other parts of the world”.


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2.6 Recommendations under Point 2 The US authorities should:

End the practice of incommunicado detention; by Grant the International Committee of the Red Cross full access to all detainees

according to the organization's mandate; i Grant all detainees access to legal counsel, relatives, independent doctors, and 10

consular representatives, without delay and regularly thcrcalier;
In balllclicld situations, cnsure where possible that interrogations are observed by al
least one military lawyer with full knowledge of international law and standards as
they pertain to the treatment of detainees;
Grant all detainees access to the courts to be able to challenge the lawfulness of their
detention. Presume detainees caplured on the battlefield during international conilicis
to be prisoners of war unless and until a competent tribunal determines otherwise;
Reject any measures that narrow or curtail the effect or scope of the Rasul v. Bush
ruling on the right to judicial review of detainees held in Guantánamo or elsewhere,
and facilitale detainees' access lo legal counsel for the purpose of judicial review.





Rumsfeld v. Padilla, oral arguments, 28 April 2004.
Rasul v. Bush, No. 03-334, decision of 28 June 2004.
US stymies detainee access despite ruling, lawyers sav. Washington Post, 14 October 2004.

USA: Administration continues to show contempt for Guantánamo detainees' rights. Al Index:
AMR 51/113/2004, 8 July 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR511132004

Supreme Court affirms right to detain enemy combatants, American Forces Information Service, news article, 29 June 2004.

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USA: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the war on terror

Point 3- No secret detention In some countries loriure lakes place in secrei locations, olien alier the victims are made 10 "disappear". Governments should ensure thai prisoners are held only in officially recognized places of detention and that accurate information about their arrest and whereabouts is made available immediately 10 relatives, lawyers and the couris. Effective judicial remedies should he available at all times to enable relatives and lauvers to find out inmediately where a

prisoner is held and under what authority and to ensure the prisoner's safery:

3.1 Secrecy nurtures torture and "disappearance"

There was a debate after 9/11 about how to make people disappear.

Unidentified 'former US intelligence official?*17

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On 13 April 2004 in Yemen, Walid Muhammad Shahir Muhammad al-Qadasi spoke with
Amnesty International in a cell in the Political Sccurity Prison in Sana'a. He had reccnuly
been returned from detention in Guantánamo Bay. Ile recalled how he had been arrested in
Iran in late 2001 and detained there for about three months before being handed over with
other detained forcign nationals to the authorities in Afghanistan who in turn handed them
over to the custody of the US. There they were kept in a prison in Kabul.

The Americans interrogated us on our first night which we coined as 'the black
night'. They cut our clothes with scissors, left us naked and took photos of us hefore
they gave us Afghan clothes to wear. They then handcuffed our hands behind our
backs. blindfolded us and started interrogating is. The interrogator was an Egyptian.
He asked me about the names of all members of my family, relatives and friends. They
threatened me with death, accusing me of belonging to al-Qa'ida.
They put us in an underground cell measuring approximately two metres hy three
merres. There were ten of us in the cell. We spent three months in the cell. There was
no room for us to sleep so we had 10 alternate. The window of the cell was very small.
It was too hot in the cell, despite the fact thai outside the temperature was freezing
(there was snow'), because ihe cell was overcrowded. They used to open the cell from
Time 10 lime 10 allow air in. During the three-month period in the cell we were not
allowed outside into the open air. We were allowed access to toilets twice a day; the
Toileis were localed by the cell."

Walid al-Qadasi said that the prisoners were only fed once a day and that loud music was uscd as “lorlure". He said that one of his fellow detainces went insane.

Walid al-Qadasi was eventually transferred to Bagram, where he faced a month of intcrrogation. Then his head was shaved, he was blindfolded, madc lo wcar car mulls and mouth mask, handcuffed, shackled, loaded on to a plane and flown out to Guantánamo. There, he said he was held in solitary conlinement for the first month of what would become a Iwo


Quoted in Harsh CIA methods cited in top Qaeda interrogations. New York Times, 13 May 2004,

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