Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Torture, homicide rife in U.S. prisons

Tehran Times

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released new documents revealing widespread abuse of detainees in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
New documents obtained by the ACLU show “unjustified homicide” of detainees and concerns about the condition of confinement in American prisons, CNN reported on Saturday.

Thousands of documents detailing the deaths of 190 detainees were released by the ACLU on Friday.

The U.S. military has provided the documents under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the rights group.

The documents reveal how four Iraqi detainees were executed by a group of U.S. soldiers and then pushed into a Baghdad canal in 2007.

One of the investigating documents says a wounded detainee was killed by an unnamed sergeant, who walked into the room where the detainee was lying wounded and “assaulted him … then shot him twice thus killing him.”

The soldier then asked the other troopers present at the scene to lie about the incident.

In another case, it is revealed that a soldier “committed the offense of murder when he shot and killed an unarmed Afghan male.” But, according to the ACLU, the individual was found not guilty of murder by general court-martial.

No senior officials have been held accountable for the violations.

“So far, the documents released by the government raise more questions than they answer, but they do confirm one troubling fact: that no senior officials have been held to account for the widespread abuse of detainees.

Without real accountability for these abuses, we risk inviting more abuse in the future,” the ACLU said in a statement.

The U.S. Defense Department disputes the allegations, saying it takes detainee treatment seriously.

“Although there have been cases of individuals involved in misconduct, there is no evidence of systematic abuse by the United States military,” said Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher.

“The (Defense) Department has detained more than 100,000 individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan, many with pre-existing medical conditions or battlefield wounds. Detainees in DoD custody have died from a number of causes including enemy attacks, detainee-on-detainee violence, battlefield injuries, and natural causes,” she added.

A report issued by the U.S.-based Open Society Foundation released in last October, showed that American prison guards mistreated Afghan detainees held at the notorious U.S.-run Bagram prison camp and airbase in Afghanistan.

Former Bagram detainees say their U.S. prison officers placed them in solitary confinement, abused them and prevented them from observing religious rituals.

Over 800 detainees are being held at the Bagram military base alone. The secret prison became a symbol of prisoner abuse after U.S. troops beat two detainees to death there in 2002.

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