South Sudanese authorities must release all people detained without charge by the security agencies, including 28 men currently held at the headquarters of the national intelligence agency in the capital Juba, said Amnesty International’s Secretary General today in an open letter to President Salva Kiir.
The call comes after the president publicly pledged to release all political detainees.
“Hundreds of people, mostly men, have been arrested without charge by security agents and held in torturous conditions for long periods of time, since the conflict began more than three years ago. Others have disappeared without a trace at the hands of National Security Service and Military Intelligence agents,” said Salil Shetty.
“While President Kiir’s pledge was welcome, we call on him to go a step further and order a full investigation into arbitrary detention practices of government security agencies, enforced disappearances, deaths in custody, torture and other ill-treatment.”
At least 20 men have died in detention at three separate detention centres in Juba between February 2014 and December 2016.
Published on Amnesty International website on March 27, 2017.
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Nearly a decade after C.I.A. interrogators tortured a Saudi man suspected of involvement in Al Qaeda’s bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000, the prisoner continued to experience lingering psychological consequences, including “nightmares that invoked being chained, naked and waterboarded,” newly declassified documents show.
The detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is facing the death penalty over charges before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay that he helped plot the Cole attack, which killed 17 sailors, as well as an attack on a French-flagged oil tanker in 2002 that killed a Bulgarian man. The newly declassified documents are part of a petition in a related case his lawyers are filing with the Supreme Court.
The new details add to the growing public understanding of what American officials, desperate to get information out of Mr. Nashiri that they hoped would stop terrorist attacks, did to the prisoner. They also show how that treatment created long-term consequences. When Bush administration lawyers authorized the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002, one of their premises was that the program they enabled would inflict no lasting damage to the prisoners.
It has long been known that the C.I.A. subjected Mr. Nashiri to some of the most extreme torture of any prisoner taken into the agency’s custody after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That included prolonged sleep deprivation and the suffocation technique called waterboarding, both of which the Justice Department deemed lawful. It also included a mock execution by an interrogator who racked the slide of a pistol as if preparing to fire it and then revved a power drill next to his head, which went beyond the approved program.
But even though some of what the government did to Mr. Nashiri has become public, including through the partial declassification of a 2004 C.I.A. inspector general report and the release in 2014 of the executive summary of a Senate Intelligence Committee report about the interrogation program, many details have remained classified.
Among the newly disclosed details, the court filing showed that Mr. Nashiri was locked inside a coffin-like box for days. While it was known that confinement in cramped spaces was one of the torture techniques the C.I.A. had approval to use at its black-site prisons, it was not previously known that Mr. Nashiri was among the detainees subjected to it.
The latest filing also discloses that photographs exist of the waterboard setup that the C.I.A. used with Mr. Nashiri and at least two other prisoners, although the photographs were not revealed.
And government censors left unredacted details from a classified psychological examination of Mr. Nashiri that was conducted in 2012 as part of the commission case against him. It showed that his mental breakdown in response to the torture had long-term effects, including his continuing nightmares and other signs of post-traumatic stress.
“He developed a phobia of water and, when showering, kept the water pressure low,” the filing stated, citing the psychological review. “For approximately one year after being publicly transferred” from the C.I.A. black-site program “to Guantánamo in 2006, he avoided leaving his cell altogether.”
Lawyers for Mr. Nashiri have been pursuing a lawsuit in the federal court system asking judges to block the government from prosecuting him before a military commission, rather than in civilian court. The argument centers on the idea that the bombings of the Cole and the French oil tanker did not take place in a wartime context, and so it is improper to use a military war-crime court to address them.
In August, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Mr. Nashiri’s lawsuit by a 2-to-1 vote, with the majority ruling that the pending commission proceedings had to run their course first and then Mr. Nashiri could raise the issue on appeal, assuming he is convicted. His lawyers are appealing to the Supreme Court, again seeking an order to shut down the commission trial.
Their petition and an attached appendix include a significant amount of information about what happened to Mr. Nashiri, drawn from classified summaries turned over to his defense team in the commission case. Large amounts of that material remained redacted.
The uncovered portions showed that Mr. Nashiri’s defense team also drew heavily from a recently published book, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America,” by James E. Mitchell, one of two psychologists whom the C.I.A. hired to design its interrogation program.
Mr. Mitchell’s book defended the program as he and the other psychologist, Bruce Jessen, had designed it, but portrayed C.I.A. officials as sometimes deviating from it — and from limits set by the Justice Department — to inflict more extreme physical abuse on detainees that the psychologists did not condone.
Some of those details, which have not been included in declassified government documents to date, were also included in the Supreme Court petition.
For example, Mr. Mitchell described watching C.I.A. officials make Mr. Nashiri kneel, put a broomstick behind his knees and force his body backward until “he began to scream” — because, the petition said, the technique was pulling his knee joints apart.
Another passage from the book highlighted in the petition described the use of a stiff-bristled brush to scrub Mr. Nashiri’s anus and scrotum “and then his mouth.”
Separately, the military judge overseeing the commission case against Mr. Nashiri has apparently issued an order authorizing the defense team to call Mr. Jessen and Mr. Mitchell as witnesses. The defense strategy in that case is to argue that the government should not be permitted to execute Mr. Nashiri because it tortured him.
In yet another case, other former C.I.A. detainees are suing Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen. Earlier this month, the Trump administration asked a judge to block the two psychologists’ request for testimony from several top C.I.A. officials, including Gina Haspel, the deputy director, arguing that asking her questions about the topic would endanger state secrets.
This article was published on the NY Times' website on March 17, 2017.
Zimbabwe’s adoption of a new Constitution with an expansive Bill of Rights in 2013 was a major achievement, but since then the government has implemented no meaningful legislative reforms to align existing laws to the constitution.
In 2016, President Robert Mugabe undermined the independence of the judiciary and of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) through verbal assaults on the two institutions. The government should ensure and respect the independence of the judiciary and the ZHRC.
Those who criticize President Mugabe or his government, including human rights defenders, civil society activists, government opponents, and street vendors, face harassment, threats, and arbitrary arrest by the police and state security agents. The government has failed to ensure justice and accountability for serious past abuses. The authorities have not fully investigated the abduction and enforced disappearance of pro-democracy activist and human rights defender Itai Dzamara on March 9, 2015. The government should immediately provide information on his fate or whereabouts and bring those responsible to justice.
Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including opposition supporters and civil society activists, by police and members of Zimbabwe’s intelligence services remain a serious and systemic human rights problem in Zimbabwe, despite the government’s accepting to “ratify the [Convention against Torture], implement its standards into national law and take immediate and concrete actions against the practice of torture by State officials” during the 2011 UPR. Acts of torture that Human Rights Watch has documented include severe beatings that involve victims being punched, kicked, and struck with batons; beatings on the soles of the feet; repeated banging of detainees’ heads against walls; and the shackling of detainees in painful positions.
The government rarely investigates allegations of torture by police or intelligence officers. In addition to ratifying the Convention against Torture, Zimbabwe should take steps to implement recommendations it received during the UPR to fully implement its provisions.
This article was published on HRW's website on March 16, 2017.
By Valerie Strauss
* By the age of 14, approximately 25 percent of African American children have experienced a parent — in most cases a father — being imprisoned for some period of time. On any given school day, approximately 10 percent of African American schoolchildren have a parent who is in jail or prison, more than four times the share in 1980.
* The comparable share for white children is 4 percent; an African American child is six times as likely as a white child to have or have had an incarcerated parent.
* A growing share of African Americans have been arrested for drug crimes, yet African Americans are no more likely than whites to sell or use drugs. Of imprisoned fathers of African American children, only one-third are in prison because of a violent crime.
* Research in criminal justice, health, sociology, epidemiology, and economics demonstrates that when parents are incarcerated, children do worse across cognitive and noncognitive outcome measures — and the incarceration is a key cause. For example, children of incarcerated parents are more likely to drop out of school; develop learning disabilities; misbehave in school; suffer from migraines, asthma, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness.
Those are findings from a new report released by the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute that says the “evidence is overwhelming that the unjustified incarceration of African American fathers (and, increasingly, mothers as well) is an important cause of the lowered performance of their children” and of the racial achievement gap.
When parents are imprisoned, it is not only they who suffer, but also their offspring. The number of children affected has grown to the point that we can reasonably infer that our criminal justice system is making an important contribution to the racial achievement gap in both cognitive and non cognitive skills.
The report also says that educators should view criminal justice reform as a key part of school reform and join forces with reformers in the area of criminal justice.
Educators have paid too little heed to this criminal justice crisis. Criminal justice reform should be a policy priority for educators who are committed to improving the achievement of African American children. While reform of federal policy may seem implausible in a Trump administration, educators can seize opportunities for such advocacy at state and local levels because many more parents are incarcerated in state than in federal prisons. In 2014, over 700,000 prisoners nationwide were serving sentences of a year or longer for nonviolent crimes. Over 600,000 of these were in state, not federal, prisons.
The report was done by Leila Morsy and Richard Rothstein, both of the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. Morsy is a senior lecturer in education at the School of Education at the University of New South Wales, and a research associate at EPI. Rothstein is also an EPI research associate as well as a senior fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and author of the forthcoming “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” A former national education writer for the New York Times, Rothstein also has written books that include “Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right,” and “Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap.”
This article was published on The Washington Post's website on March 15, 2017.
By Mercy Mujuru
ZIMBABWEAN courts have ordered the deduction from a police officer's salary as compensation for torturing a high school student to induce a confession. Pupil Brighton Sanyanga had in 2014 been tortured at a fearsome police station east of the country in a case of malicious damage to property after student rioting.
The Mutare Magistrates' Court has granted an application to garnish US$100 (R1 300) per month from Constable Crispen Chikazhe in satisfaction of a judgment debt, which was granted against the police officer for his brutality when he tortured Sanyanga, then aged 19, of Pafiwa High School in Mutasa District in Manicaland Province. Sanyanga, who was an "A" level (Matric) student, had been invited for questioning at Nyanga police station. In an effort to extract information from Sanyanga, Chikazhe tortured the student physically by exposing him to electrical shock and threatened to kill him. Sanyanga's lawyer, Peggy Tavagadza, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) intervened by suing Chikazhe on behalf of the student.
Courts awarded damages in the sum of $570 to Sanyanga, for torture, pain and suffering, medical expenses and transport costs. Chikazhe reneged prompting Tavagadza to file an application in the court in January seeking an order to compel the Salary Services Bureau, which processes government employees' salaries, to garnish the officer's salary. This is not the first time ZLHR has intervened after police officers at Nyanga police station tortured locals. In one of the cases, two officers were ordered to pay $3 000 in damages for torturing hotel security guard Tsitsi Chimhutu when they were investigating a break-in at Montclair Hotel last year. Officers tortured her to induce a confession in a case of $2 500 which had gone missing.
This article was published on All Africa's website on March 13, 2017.