Saturday, April 5, 2014

More on Diego Garcia

Terror suspects 'held' on Diego Garcia

GENEVA: The UN torture investigator yesterday said he had received "credible" allegations that the US detained terror suspects on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia - a claim that directly contradicts statements by the British and US governments.
Britain admitted in an embarrassing reversal last month that the remote outpost had been used by the US as a refuelling stop for the secret transfer of two terrorism suspects. But it said Washington denied that the island was a detention centre.
Manfred Nowak, one of the global body's unpaid, independent human rights experts, said multiple sources had told him that terror suspects were sent to Diego Garcia and kept there between 2002 and 2003.
He said he received the allegations "quite a long time ago" from detainees and other sources.
"I've had a few allegations and, in my opinion, they were credible," Professor Nowak said in Vienna.
"I cannot disclose any of the sources. I have received these allegations on absolute condition of anonymity."
Professor Nowak said he did not know how many suspects had been held on the island. He said prisoners were purportedly kept at Diego Garcia for "short periods of time", and definitely no longer than a month.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband revealed to parliament last month that recent talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice showed two suspects had been on flights to Guantanamo Bay and Morocco in 2002 that stopped on Diego Garcia, a US base on British soil.
He said the CIA acknowledged that information previously provided to the British "turned out to be wrong", despite earlier US assurances that none of the secret flights since the attacks of September 11, 2001, had used British airspace or soil, and despite statements made by his government in 2005, 2006 and last year that there were no such transfers involving Britain.
But Mr Miliband said the US Government denied holding suspects there, and that a US investigation showed no other record of rendition through Diego Garcia or any other British territory.
Human rights lawyers and former terror suspects have long alleged that the tropical island is a "black site" prison for terror suspects. Unlike Guantanamo Bay, few journalists have visited the US base. Requests to visit the territory are handled by the US Government.
The disclosure of the rendition flights - and the continued attention it is attracting - could pressure the US to identify other countries used in extraordinary renditions, a practice of transferring suspects without formal extradition proceedings. Human rights groups say the renditions open the door for third-party countries to torture and interrogate suspects outside of international standards.
Britain is the first Western European government to directly acknowledge that one of its territories was used in the US renditions. But it is only one of 14 countries accused by the European parliament and the Council of Europe of colluding with the CIA to transport terror suspects to clandestine prisons in third countries.
'Torture common in US secret prisons'
Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:17AM
A US detention center abroad (file photo)
A series of United Nations investigations indicate that the use of torture and inhumane practices against prisoners are common in US secret detention centers around the world.

The US security forces hold a large number of suspects in secret detention centers run by the Central Intelligence Agency around the world, particularly in Afghanistan. The detainees are denied access to lawyers and are not allowed to visit their families, Fars news agency reported on Wednesday. 

American interrogators force their captives to take off their clothes and remain naked for indefinite periods. They also gag detainees and shut their eyes while hanging them from the cell ceiling for long hours. 

According to the Human Rights First, there are now more than 2,000 detainees being held at the US-run Bagram Air Base secret jails without any charge or due legal process, and the number of detainees have been tripled since the end of the Bush administration. 

Some 27,000 prisoners are suspected to have been held by the US in secret detention centers around the world including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Island of Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean), Jordan and aboard US amphibious assault ships. 

According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, numerous cases of torture ordered by US officials and perpetrated by US authorities are well documented. 

Since October 2001, when the war on Afghanistan began, almost 800 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo. 

In 2008, during his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama described Guantanamo as a "sad chapter in American history" and promised to close down the prison in 2009. 

In January 2009, Obama signed a number of executive orders purporting to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and end Bush's abusive practices. However, Guantanamo still remains open and many say Obama's orders still permit inhumane interrogation practices due to its loopholes. 

The interrogation and detention regime implemented by the US since 9/11 has resulted in the deaths of over 100 detainees in US custody. 


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