Saturday, 29 August 2009

Human Rights News: 8/29

This week, a report by the CIA inspector general called for a full criminal investigation into post-9/11 detainee abuse by the Bush administration. US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Tuesday his plans for a preliminary review of torture allegations.

The CIA report, analyzing detention and interrogation activities, was actually completed in April 2004 but was suppressed from publication, despite the Freedom of Information Act. Some sections still remain "top secret" and shielded from public eyes. The report covers the period from September 2001 to October 2003, detailing a range of CIA abuses that constitute torture under US and international law.

According to Rob Freer, Amnesty International's researcher on the USA, this investigation cannot come soon enough. "The USA needs to ensure that every case of torture is submitted for prosecution, whether or not perpetrators claim to have been following orders, and those who authorized or ordered the commission of torture or other criminal abuse of detainees must also be brought to justice." He also calls for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to probe detainee treatment throughout the "War on Terror". He maintains that the commission "must not be used to block or delay the prosecution of any individuals against whom there is already sufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing," including senior officials who authorized or inspired the use of torture by lower-level CIA operatives.

The report includes descriptions of various abusive practices, such as exposing prisoners held in secret to mock executions, the brandishing of guns and electric drills, threats to kill other prisoners' children, waterboarding, and other forms of torture. According to Human Rights Watch, the US's track record for punishing these types of prisoner abuse has been "abysmal", despite plentiful evidence. No CIA operative has ever been held accountable, and only a few military personnel have been held to justice.


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