14 January 2006

Amnesty reports on more cases of torture at Gitmo

Amnesty International weighs in in the lack of progress in the torture issue, and how threats to human rights could get even worse given Bush's sidestepping of the law.

From a press release:
Marking the fourth anniversary of the first transfers of detainees to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, January 11, 2006, Amnesty International released new testimonies alleging the use of torture and ill treatment against prisoners in the U.S. detention center and additional details on several detainee cases.

The testimonies include that of one of the first detainees to be transferred to Guantanamo, Jumah al-Dossari, a 32-year-old Bahraini national who was taken to the U.S. Naval Base in January 2002 after being held by U.S. forces in the Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan.

Al-Dossari's testimony, corroborated by people who have now been released from Guantanamo, includes several allegations of physical and psychological torture and ill treatment inflicted by U.S. personnel both on him and on other inmates in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

"Anniversaries usually represent milestones. Today's milestone is a frightening and disheartening one. The situation at Guantanamo is not getting better -- in fact, it may be worse. First, the Bush Administration wants all 186 pending habeas corpus petitions filed on behalf of the detainees to be dismissed based on a new law that was not meant to apply to cases filed before the law went into effect. And now, after Congress overwhelming passed the historic Anti-Torture Amendment, President Bush is asserting that he can waive the restrictions on the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against detainees. When does the hypocrisy of defending democracy around the world while continuing to curtail fundamental due process end?" said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.

"There are approximately 500 men who have been treated with complete and utter disdain -- the antipathy of the American value of recognizing the basic human dignity of all people. It isn't surprising that after years of uncertainty about their fate, some of these men have expressed their intention to die rather than remain in Guantanamo indefinitely," added Schulz.

Amnesty International also revealed further details on the cases of Al-Jazeera journalist Sami al Hajj, transferred to Guantanamo in June 2002 after spending time in detention in Bagram and Kandahar, and Abdulsalam al-Hela, a Yemeni businessman, subjected to rendition and secret detention before being transferred to Guantánamo.
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