Til USAs president, george W. Bush: Stop torturen av fanger i Baghram leiren

Vår internasjonale generalsekretær har engasjert seg sterkt i kampen mot tortur og for opprettholdelsen av menneskerettighentene også i "kampen mot terror". Under følger hennes brev til president Bush der hun er svært bekymret over situasjonen til fangene i Baghram leiren og rapporter om bruk av tortur med døden til følge. Her kan du lese hennes brev til Bush.
Publisert: 18. jun 2003, kl. 15:21 | Sist oppdatert: 2. sep 2013, kl. 14:39

George W. Bush

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500


10 March 2003

Dear Mr President,

Amnesty International has written to you on a number of occasions to express concern about the treatment of people held in US custody in connection with the "war on terrorism", including detainees held in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. To date, we have received no response to any of the concerns raised, nor to our repeated requests for access to the US detention facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Amnesty International is gravely concerned by new reports suggesting that two Afghan detainees who died in the Bagram facility last December may have been beaten while in custody and by allegations that detainees held for interrogation at the base were subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

US military officials are reported this week to have confirmed that autopsy reports in the cases of the two men who died at the Bagram base give cause of death as "homicide" and that "blunt force injuries" were found in both cases. The deceased were a 22 year-old Afghan taxi-driver called Dilawar, who died on 10 December 2002 a few days after being taken into custody, and Mullah Habibullah, said to be aged around 30, who died on 3 December. According to a recent report in the New York Times, the autopsy in Dilawar’s case states that he died as a result of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease". Military sources are quoted as saying that Mullah Habibullah died of pulmonary embolism or a blood clot in the lung; blunt force injuries were reportedly noted in his case also. The US military is reported to have begun a criminal investigation into the deaths.

An article appearing in the New York Times on 4 March 2003 describes allegations by several former detainees of what would appear to be the systematic torture or ill-treatment of al-Qa’ida and Taleban suspects at the Bagram base. The treatment is alleged to have taken place in an interrogation section on the second floor of the Bagram detention facility, to which representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) -- who visit other parts of the facility -- are reportedly denied access.

Two of the detainees, Abdul Jabar and Hakkim Shah, were reportedly held at Bagram at the same time as Dilawar. They allege that they and other detainees were made to stand naked and hooded in the upstairs section, with their arms raised and chained to a ceiling and with their feet shackled, unable to move for hours at a time and days on end. Hakkim Shah said that he spent 16 days in this part of the facility, during which he was made to stand for ten days until his legs became so swollen that the shackles cut into his ankles, stopping the blood flow; he was allowed to dress only when taken for interrogation or to go to the bathroom. He and others alleged that they were kicked and shouted at by US guards to keep them awake while standing and during interrogation.

Abdul Jabar alleges that he saw Dilawar in the detention centre before he died and that he was hooded and having difficulty breathing. Hakkim Shah also says he saw Dilawar looking ill and with his feet in chains.

Although these accounts are among the most serious allegations of cruel treatment of al-Qa’ida and Taleban suspects in US custody, they are consistent with other reports received by Amnesty International that detainees in US military facilities, including those transported to Guantanamo Bay, have been hooded, kept for long periods in uncomfortable positions and subjected to sleep deprivation. There were also disturbing allegations that Afghan villagers taken into custody in February and March 2002 were hooded, shackled, punched and kicked by US soldiers at Kandahar base before being released; investigations by US authorities into these incidents have not resulted in any action as far as Amnesty International is aware.

Lt Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, the US commander of the coalition force in Afghanistan is quoted in the New York Times on 4 March as acknowledging that Bagram detainees had been made to stand for long periods, although he denied that prisoners were chained to the ceiling.

The treatment alleged falls clearly within the category of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which is absolutely prohibited under international law. The United Nations Committee against Torture has explicitly held that restraining detainees in very painful positions; hooding; threats; prolonged sleep deprivation and "using cold air to chill the detainee" are methods of interrogation which violate the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment contained under the Convention against Torture (among methods of interrogation cited in UN Doc. CAT/C/SR.297, reporting on Israel’s compliance with the Convention against Torture; the committee recommended that interrogation by Israeli security officers applying these methods “"ease immediately").

Following the recent capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer is reported as saying that the USA would follow "all international laws and accords" in relation to the interrogation of suspects. However, we are alarmed by reports indicating that the USA may consider some of the above methods to be acceptable, despite their clear prohibition under international law.

We are also deeply concerned by reports that detainees have been denied access to ICRC representatives. Amnesty International raised concern about this with the US Government last December along with reports that an unknown number of detainees are held in undisclosed locations. The practice of incommunicado detention has been consistently condemned by human rights bodies as facilitating conditions under which torture and other abuses may take place.

Amnesty International urges the US Government to instigate a full, impartial inquiry into the treatment of detainees at the Bagram base and to make the findings public. We further urge the government to make a clear public statement that torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of suspects in its custody will not be tolerated under any circumstances, and that anyone found to have engaged in abuses will be brought to justice. We urge the authorities to instigate an immediate ban on deliberately subjecting detainees to techniques which include prolonged restraint in painful positions; hooding; being held naked; prolonged sleep deprivation and other sensory deprivation.

Amnesty International also urges that all al-Qa’ida and Taleban suspects are given immediate access to representatives of the ICRC. We continue to urge that all those in custody are provided with basic safeguards under international law, including the right to inform family members of their place of detention; to be visited by counsel of their choice; access to the courts and other protections guaranteed to detained persons. As requested previously, we should welcome clarification of the legal status of all those detained.

Finally, according to some press reports, the US has had two of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s young children, aged 7 and 9, in its custody since last September. We should be grateful to know if the children are in US custody and, if so, to be informed of the legal status and of the circumstances under which they are held.

Yours sincerely,

Irene Khan,

Secretary General

Amnesty International

Cc Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales;

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld;

Secretary of State Colin Powell;

Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner;

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice