Afghan was taken to Guantanamo aged 12-rights group
Tue May 26, 2009
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL – An Afghan who has spent over six years at the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay prison was only around 12 years old when he was detained, not 16 or 17 as his official record says, an Afghan rights group said on Tuesday.
Interviews with the family of Mohammed Jawad, who like many poor Afghans does not know his exact age or birthday, showed he was probably not even a teenager when he was arrested in 2002, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said. …
Afghan human rights commissioner Nader Nadery said in addition to being a minor at the time of his detention, Jawad was tortured and abused by the Afghan police and while at the Guantanamo detention center.
The Commission is seeking his release and repatriation, and in the course of looking into his case found out he was probably considerably younger than his records showed.
‘TORTURED AND ABUSED’
“We asked his mother what was the big event close to his birth that you can remember, any change in the president etcetera, and she said that he was born around six months after his father’s death,” Nadery told Reuters.
“We tried to explore more when his father died, and his father died in a battle in Khost,” he said.
That fighting was in 1991, according to a petition submitted to the Afghan supreme court this month on Jawad’s behalf, aiming to force President Hamid Karzai to seek his release.
Nadry said the commission checked Jawad’s mother’s story, interviewing other relatives and officials including a soldier who commanded Jawad’s father.
Major Eric Montalvo, a Pentagon-appointed U.S. Marine Corps lawyer representing Jawad, said his client — who may still be a teenager if his mother’s dates are correct — should be released.
“We have a child of Afghanistan that was wrongfully taken from this country and he needs to be returned. He was tortured, he was abused over seven years of custody,” he told a news conference in the Afghan capital.
Nadry said the commission had raised Jawad’s case with the Afghan and U.S. governments in the past, without success.
Talking about torture: A 14-year military interrogator has undercut one of the key arguments posited by Vice President Dick Cheney in favor of the Bush Administration’s torture techniques and alleged that the use of torture has cost “hundreds if not thousands” of American lives: here.
And, from British daily The Guardian:
The home secretary Jacqui Smith faces legal action over allegations that MI5 agents colluded in the torture of a British former civil servant by Bangladeshi intelligence officers.
Lawyers for the British man, Jamil Rahman, are to file a damages claim alleging that Smith was complicit in assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and breaches of human rights legislation over his alleged ill-treatment while detained in Bangladesh.
The claims bring to three the number of countries in which British intelligence agents have been accused of colluding in the torture of UK nationals. Rahman says that he was the victim of repeated beatings over a period of more than two years at the hands of Bangladeshi intelligence officers, and he claims that a pair of MI5 officers were blatantly involved in his ordeal.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called on Wednesday for a full and transparent investigation into the recent death of a Yemeni national held at the US prison camp on Guantanamo Bay: here.
Canada’s Conservative government has repeatedly introduced obstacles to Abousfian Abdelrazik returning home, in the process redefining the rights of Canadian citizenship and inadvertently raising questions about Canada’s complicity in torture: here.
Death at Guantanamo Hovers Over Obama’s Middle East Visit: here.
Afghan women fear new rape law in works
By Murray Brewster, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Last Updated: 26th May 2009, 3:17pm
OTTAWA — A new marital rape law broader than one that sparked international outrage may be in the works in Afghanistan and Canadians must focus on the plight of women, a House of Commons committee was warned on Tuesday.
Testifying by video conference from Kabul, an Afghan human-rights campaigner pleaded for international attention and suggested backroom political deals in the Afghan parliament could further set back women’s rights in the country.
“This situation is (a) very, very bad situation … (people) are losing their hope for the future,” said Soraya Sobharang, a prominent member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
“We need your support. Please don’t forget us.”
She said she fears draft legislation now before the Afghan parliament will be modelled after a separate law for the country’s Shiite minority which effectively legalized rape within marriage.
President Hamid Karzai signed a law in March that gave Shiite men sweeping rights over their wives, including the right to demand sex and restrictions on when women could leave their homes.
The measures outraged the international community and prompted the Afghan government to promise to review the law.
But Sobharang said she fears the male-dominated parliament will force through similar measures for the majority Sunni population and water down proposed legislation that cracks down on domestic violence.
“We are going back to a (time) like the Taliban situation in Afghanistan,” said Sobharang, who noted her human-rights group had been warned months before the Shiite law was passed, but failed to persuade legislators to make significant changes.
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan and the European Union were also warned ahead of time about the legislation, but she described their reaction as “passive.”
The NDP’s foreign affairs critic said he’s concerned that the international community — particularly Canada — have been placated by Karzai’s promise to review the existing law.
Paul Dewar said the issue has not been resolved.
“We dropped the ball once and are we going to drop the ball again?” said Dewar, who noted Afghanistan is entering a presidential election campaign.
Afghanistan’s constitution recognizes equal rights for men and women, but Sobharang questioned the reliability of the country’s courts, which are composed entirely of men who have been accused of favouring husbands in divorce cases.
In 2002 and 2003, Dick Cheney ordered the torture of key prisoners captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Cheney says he ordered torture to stop another terrorist attack, but the evidence is now clear: Cheney wanted false “confessions” to justify the unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Please sign our petition to Congress and Attorney General Holder:
Those “confessions” were featured in key pre-war speeches by Cheney, George Bush, and Colin Powell that betrayed Congress, the American people, and the world.
Thus the “Torture” scandal and the “Iraq” scandal are not two separate scandals, but one massive and historically disastrous scandal: the Iraq-Torture Scandal.
Cheney claims his torture “saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” In reality, it cost hundreds of thousands of lives – innocent Iraqi lives. It also killed over 4,300 U.S. soldiers, maimed hundreds of thousands more, cost U.S. taxpayers $3 trillion dollars, and profoundly damaged U.S. credibility and security.
Dick Cheney understands the enormity of his crimes and launched a public relations war to protect himself, including carefully-chosen TV interviews and speeches. His daughter (and chief defender) Liz Cheney admitted her father’s greatest fear is prosecution.
It’s time for Congress to investigate the massive Iraq-Torture Scandal – and for the Department of Justice to prosecute Dick Cheney for creating it.
Please sign our petition to Congress and Attorney General Holder:
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