Monday, April 21, 2008

Administration of Torture in Afghanistan

The ACLU obtained documents from the Department of Defense confirming the military’s use of unlawful interrogation methods on detainees held in U.S. custody in Gardez, Afghanistan, a region near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.

“These documents make it clear that the military was using unlawful interrogation techniques in Afghanistan,” “Rather than putting a stop to these systemic abuses, senior officials appear to have turned a blind eye to them.” - Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU.

Special Operations officers in Gardez admitted to using what are known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) techniques American service members experienced as training to prepare for the brutal treatment they might face if captured.

These documents show that the Special Forces beat, burned, and doused eight prisoners with cold water before sending them into freezing weather conditions. One of the eight prisoners, Jamal Naseer, died in U.S. custody in March 2003. In late 2004, the military opened a criminal investigation into charges of torture at Gardez. Despite numerous witness statements describing the evidence of torture, the military’s investigation concluded that the charges of torture were unsupported. It also concluded that Naseer’s death was the result of a “stomach ailment,” even though no autopsy had been conducted in his case. Documents uncovered also refer to sodomy committed by prison guards; the victims’ identities are redacted.

The 25-year-old commander of the group of soldiers, Pare, told prosecutors, "It felt like they were hitting us with a cable or something made of rubber." (All detainees were hooded or blindfolded during interrogation.) "This beating went on for seventeen or eighteen days." In another interview he said he was "seriously beaten by karate, cables, and sticks, and subjected to electric shocks." Gul Karim, another of those arrested, told prosecutors, "I was taken to the compound and they immersed me in cold water...while we were in the compound we were beaten a lot." A third detainee, Momin, said, "I was beaten very hard with punches and kicks. I was seriously injured from the beatings."

"They poured water on us and threw us in the snow and beat us up," recounted another of the soldiers, Noor Mohammad. "They were throwing us against the wall. We were beaten with sticks." According to the statement of a fifth, Hazarat Wali, "They poured water on us. They were continuously beating us. And our hands and feet were shackled."

The ACLU also obtained a file related to the death of Muhammad Al Kanan, a prisoner held at Camp Bucca in Iraq. The file reveals that British doctors refused to issue a death certificate for fear of being sued for malpractice.


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