United Nations report blasts US over human rights abuses

A United Nations report says the US has been violating basic human rights by kidnapping and holding terrorism suspects in secret detention centers during the past nine years.

The US is among dozens of countries that have kidnapped suspects, four independent UN rights investigators said in a year-long study based on flight data and interviews with 30 former detainees.

“On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” they wrote in the 226-page report which is expected to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

“Secret detention as such may constitute torture or ill-treatment for the direct victims as well as their families,” the report said.

Victims and their families deserve compensation and those responsible should be prosecuted, said the four independent investigators.

The UN report explained that the purpose of the secret detentions was to cover up torture and inhuman treatment of the detainees in an effort to obtain information or silent the subjects.

The rights investigators said running facilities such as those used by the Nazis, the Soviet gulag system and Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and ’80s, was banned under the internationally recognized laws laid out in the Geneva Conventions.

They also said establishment of secret detention could not be justified under any circumstances, including during states of emergency or armed conflict.

The study, which was led by the UN Special Rapporteur On Torture Manfred Nowak and the Special Rapporteur on Terrorism and Human Rights Martin Scheinin, also offers an account of how secret US detention were set up and run.

It said after the September 11, 2001 attacks, US President at the time George W. Bush declared a global “war on terror” and set up the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and other “black sites” where al-Qaeda detainees were beyond the reach of domestic courts.

“The secret detention policy took many forms. The Central Intelligence Agency established its own secret detention facilities to interrogate the so-called ‘High Value Detainees’.

“It asked partners with poor human rights records to secretly detain and interrogate persons on its behalf.”

It added that after the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, prisoners were held incommunicado and deprived of basic rights to trial, a lawyer, and contacts with their relatives.

The investigators also cited comments by some former detainees who said that they were subjected to torture including being kept naked or subjected to loud noises or sleep deprivation during their secret detention.

The report said that under the unlawful practice, known as extraordinary rendition, detainees also appeared to have been sent to allied countries, including Thailand, Poland and Romania.

“The CIA appears to generally have been involved in the capture and transfer of prisoners, as well as in providing questions for those held in foreign prisons,” it said.

“Equally, little is known about the amount of detainees who have been held at the request of other states such as the United Kingdom and Canada,” it added.

The UN investigators said commitments by the Obama administration to close CIA detention facilities were not sufficient, pointing out that clarification was needed on what had happened to detainees held in sites in Iraq or Afghanistan.


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