British government, stop jailing tortured refugees, court decides


This 30 July 2017 video is called Turkish Soldiers Appear to be Torturing Syrian Refugees.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Government policy on tortured asylum seekers declared unlawful by High Court

Vulnerable individuals wrongly locked up while asylum claims are processed despite doctors submitting evidence of torture and ill-treatment to the Home Office, court rules

May Bulman, Social Affairs Correspondent

Tuesday 10 October 2017 11:41 BST

The High Court has declared the Government’s policy on torture victims is unlawful, after being told asylum seekers fleeing persecution were being wrongly detained.

In a move that could help prevent thousands of vulnerable people from being incarcerated in the UK’s notorious detention centres, the judge ruled individuals had been wrongly locked up during their asylum claims despite doctors submitting evidence of torture and ill-treatment to the Home Office.

The case was bought by seven survivors of torture who had been detained in the UK, including victims of sexual and physical abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation, homophobic attacks and a child abused by loan sharks.

One of the claimants, a young man kidnapped and beaten with knives, sticks and a gun by the Taliban because he refused to be groomed into joining them, was told by the Home Office that his case did not meet the new definition of torture.

Apparently, Theresa May’s government‘s new definition of torture is: ‘It’s only torture if it is done by a government which is at odds with BP, Shell, or another British multinational corporation‘ [sarcasm off].

Another claimant, a Nepalese man who was beaten, cut and shot at by a terrorist group in his home country, in an ordeal lasting 15 days, was also told that his experiences do not meet the new definition of torture.

The ruling comes up after campaigners accused the Government of adopting an unreasonably narrow definition of torture in policy changes made last September, in which it sought to apply a United Nations political document drafted to prevent the perpetration of torture worldwide to a purely medical assessment.

The Home Office subsequently advised medical practitioners assessing individuals’ vulnerability to harm in detention that torture inflicted by non-state actors must not be considered torture in their examinations.

Judge Ouseley told the Home Office unambiguously that their new policy was “unlawful and their actions upon it too were unlawful”, saying the new policy had “no rational or evidence base”.

Medical Justice, a charity that sent volunteer doctors to assist two of the claimants in detention, said the Government dismissed warnings from them that the policy was likely to increase the risk of harm and fundamentally weaken protections for vulnerable detainees.

The Home Office admitted it unlawfully detained the seven detainee claimants and applied the policy wrongly in 57 per cent of 340 cases in its initial 10 weeks of implementation, describing it as a “bedding in” issue.

It comes a month after systemic failures were highlighted in BBC Panorama undercover footage of detainees appearing to be abused, including a guard throttling a detainee whilst threatening to kill him and a nurse colluding in falsifying the detainee’s medical records. Since the documentary was broadcasted, three detainees have died in immigration detention.

A damning report by senior civil servant Stephen Shaw into the welfare in detention of vulnerable people in 2016 meanwhile found that “many practices and processes associated with detention are in urgent need of reform”.

The Government publicly accepted the “broad thrust” of the report, only to quietly remove safeguards for victims of torture a few months later with the new policy.

Judge Ouseley was clear in his finding that the distinction between state and non-state torture when assessing particular vulnerability to harm in detention “has no rational or evidence base,” adding: “There is no evidence that such a distinction relates to the relevant vulnerability. The evidence rather is that it does not.”

He went further to say that the policy “would require medical practitioners to reach conclusions on political issues which they cannot rationally be asked to reach.”

The High Court judge also noted that, by irrationally excluding victims of torture by non-state actors, the policy “falls short of meeting the statutory purpose which it is required to meet,” meaning that the Home Office failed to carry out the express will of Parliament.

One of the claimants, who is unnamed but who was unlawfully detained and suffered mental health deterioration while held in detention, said after the hearing: “I welcome the decision and I am happy that the Judge accepted that the Home Office’s policy to narrow the definition of torture was unlawful.

“The Home Office said that detention will not affect me because I am not a victim of torture. It is difficult to believe that the Home Office could happily detain me knowing that I was tortured. It affected me greatly to be subjected to this unlawful policy. It has left a scar in my life that will never be healed.

“Although I welcome the decision, it is still upsetting that the Home Office, who should protect people like me, rejected me and put me in detention which reminded me of the ordeal I suffered in my country of origin.

“I hope that the decision will benefit other survivors of torture held in immigration detention and it will prevent the Home Office from implementing a policy that will hurt vulnerable individuals in the future.”

Medical Justice doctors accused the Home Office of “sheer contempt” for narrowing the definition of torture, and urged that its “systematic healthcare failings” in detention settings had led to heightened mistreatment of detainees.

“Narrowing the definition of torture by the Home Office demonstrates its sheer contempt for vulnerable detainees whose lives it is responsible for. The Home Office should have welcomed our evidence of the policy’s harm suffered by torture victims, not dismissed it,” a spokesperson said.

“There is ample justification for immediately releasing all detained adults at risk so they can access the care and support they need in the community. We believe that The Home Office’s denials of systemic healthcare failings for over a decade has enabled mistreatment of detainees and that its inability to stop abuse means that the only solution is to close immigration removal centres.”

Lewis Kett, one of the solicitors leading the challenge on behalf of the Duncan Lewis claimants, said: “Today’s judgment means that those making decisions to detain should now be able to focus on the real question: whether the individual is particularly vulnerable to harm in detention.

“This was supposed to be the intention of the Adults at Risk policy following the Shaw Report’s damning critique, but the Home Office got it spectacularly wrong. Our clients have now finally been vindicated on this point.”

See also here.

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British child soldiers tortured


This video from Britain says about itself:

Former Harrogate Army Instructors Face Assault Charges

13 August 2017

Seventeen former army instructors are due before a court martial next month charged with assaults on recruits.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

NCOs before court martial after claims of faeces smearing

Thursday 21st September 2017

ARMY officers will be hauled in front of a court martial hearing today over allegations that they smeared faeces into the faces of trainee soldiers.

Seventeen sergeants and corporals will face the hearing into the alleged abuse of teenage recruits at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

They are accused of forcing animal faeces into the mouths of 17-year-olds, holding their heads under water and repeatedly beating them.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) warned that the allegations may be “the tip of the iceberg” and exposed the abusive culture of Britain’s armed forces.

PPU co-ordinator Symon Hill said the allegations called into question Britain’s armed forces recruitment policy — Britain is one of the few countries still recruiting under-18s.

And he blasted a process that allowed the army to conduct a trial over its own actions, calling for greater transparency and public scrutiny.

He said: “Why is the army allowed to conduct its own trials? If a manager at Tesco were accused of abusing a teenage member of staff, noone would expect him to be tried by a jury consisting entirely of Tesco managers.

“The army is effectively allowed to operate outside the law. It urgently needs to be opened to public scrutiny.”

Former soldier Wayne Shorrocks said the allegations are similar to his experiences during his training on joining the army in 2006 at the age of 17.

He said: “We were often told by instructors to turn around and look away while questionable things were taking place.

“Military training exists to mentally and physically condition you to follow orders without question and to remove your natural aversion to killing.”

The two-day hearing is expected to be the first phase of a longer trial process.

17 Army instructors charged with assaulting recruits after claims cadets had their heads pushed under water and poo shoved in their mouths: here.

Elite British soldiers in Iraq subjected their comrades to humiliating ceremonies that included dousing victims in urine and faeces, a court martial heard yesterday: here.

‘Inhuman Belgian prisons’, Dutch court says


This video says about itself:

Belgian jail loses keys

1 November 2012

The governor of one Belgian jail has been suspended after keys to the cells went missing.

The chaplain of Leuven prison has mislaid his master set and staff fear inmates could have got their hands on them.

It means the lucky prisoner will be able to open any of the 180 cells and the doors that separate the twenty sections.

Officials are trying to get the bottom of the matter.

A number of staff went on strike for several hours on Wednesday in support of the suspended governor.

They returned to work later that evening and maintenance staff are in for a busy few days.

The locks on all the cells are having to be replaced one by one.

Translated from Leen Vervaeke, 1 August 2017, in Dutch daily De Volkskrant:

Dutch court refuses extradition to Belgium; Prisons are ‘inhuman and degrading’

Usually, such an extradition request is a formality, but on Tuesday, the International Law Chamber of the Amsterdam Court refused to send the suspects to Belgium. Reason for this is a devastating report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Council of Europe (CPT), published two weeks ago. In that report, the CPT wrote that it had never seen such a bad situation as in Belgium in Europe in 27 years.

Sometimes three prisoners live in a one person cell, with fungi on the walls, without toilet or running water.

Cameroon military tortures innocent children as ‘anti-terrorism’


This video says about itself:

Cameroon’s Secret Torture Chambers: Fotokol

19 July 2017

Amnesty International has collected evidence of over a hundred cases of illegal detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing of Cameroonian citizens falsely accused of supporting or being a member of Boko Haram, at around twenty sites across the country.

Using testimony and information supplied by Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture reconstructed two of these facilities – a regional military headquarters and an occupied school – in order to confirm and illustrate the conditions of incarceration and torture described by former detainees.

Read more here.

From Amnesty International:

Cameroon: Amnesty report reveals war crimes in fight against Boko Haram, including horrific use of torture
20 July 2017, 00:01 UTC

• Detainees subjected to severe beatings, agonising stress positions and drownings, with some tortured to death

• Widespread torture at 20 sites, including four military bases, two facilities run by intelligence services, a private residence and a school

• Calls for US and other international partners to investigate their military personnel’s possible knowledge of torture at one base

Hundreds of people in Cameroon accused of supporting Boko Haram, often without evidence, are being brutally tortured by security forces, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

Using dozens of testimonies, corroborated with satellite imagery, photographic and video evidence, the report ‘Cameroon’s secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram’ documents 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between 2013 and 2017, at over 20 different sites.

“We have repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the atrocities and war crimes committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon. But, nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“These horrific violations amount to war crimes. Given the weight of the evidence we have uncovered, the authorities must initiate independent investigations into these practices of incommunicado detention and torture, including potential individual and command responsibility.”

Amnesty International wrote to the Cameroonian authorities in April 2017 to share the report’s findings, but no response was provided and all subsequent requests for meetings were refused …

The report also highlights the presence of US and French military personnel at the BIR base in Salak, and calls for these governments to investigate the extent to which their personnel stationed at Salak, or regularly visiting, may have been aware that illegal detention and torture was taking place on site.

Amnesty International delegates have directly observed French soldiers during one visit there, while more than a dozen former detainees held there between 2015 and 2016 said they saw and heard white, English-speaking men at the base, including some in military uniform. This has been confirmed by photographic and video evidence showing uniformed US personnel, some of whom are stationed there.

“Given the frequent and possibly prolonged presence of their military personnel, the US government and other international partners should investigate the degree to which their personnel were aware of illegal detention and torture at the Salak base, and whether they took any measures to report it to their hierarchy and the Cameroonian authorities,” said Alioune Tine.

Amnesty International wrote to the US and French Embassies in Cameroon on 23 June 2017, requesting further information about what their personnel knew and what was reported. The US Embassy responded on 11 July and their letter can be found in the report. No response was received from the French Embassy.

Cameroonian troops tortured and killed prisoners at base used for U.S. drone surveillance: here.

90-year-old Indonesian accuses Dutch colonial army of torture


This 2008 video is called Torture prison, from Dutch colonialism in Indonesia.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Indonesian claims compensation from the Netherlands for torture

Today, 09:49

In the court in The Hague a 90-year-old Indonesian says he was tortured by Dutch soldiers in the former Dutch East Indies in 1947. He claims 50,000 euros compensation from the Dutch government.

The man named Yasman himself is not present in The Hague. The trial goes through a Skype link with a court on Java. The case was instituted by the Dutch Ereschulden Foundation.

It is the first time that an Indonesian charges the Dutch state for torture in former Dutch East Indies. The state has already paid damages for executions and rapes during the Dutch military actions there, but so far not (yet) for torture. That makes the case important, says lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld who defends Yasman.

Electrocuted

The torture is said to have occurred in 1947, in the first military campaign of the Netherlands to stop Indonesian independence.

Zegveld: “The man was in training at the Indonesian army at that time, was detained and imprisoned in a sugar factory in east Java near Kebon Agung, was tortured there, beaten with sticks on his head, cigarettes burned on his skin and he has been electrocuted. That way he has been imprisoned for thirteen months.”

Whether Yasman’s story is correct is difficult to determine because there is no evidence, Zegveld acknowledges. “That’s why it is so important for the court to hear the man. It depends very much on his statement, but his story is quite detailed, and his sister says he was gone for a long time. When he returned, he was greatly famished. May be that all is enough.”

“There is not much more available, but his story is useful in the context of the [so-called as euphemism] police actions when violence was used.” The term ‘police actions’ describes the Dutch military actions in Indonesia.

Injuries

The Dutch state acknowledged that the places where Yasman said he had been imprisoned were indeed prisons. The Red Cross has also written reports stating that in those places things happened “incorrectly”.

The purpose of today’s hearing is to hear Yasman’s story. If the court continues with the case, then, according to Zegveld, an expert will go to Indonesia to look at the man’s injuries.

He must then judge whether the dents on his skull and the burns on his skin are indeed the result of the abuse in the 1940’s.

Secret Saudi-UAE-USA torture prisons in occupied Yemen


This video from the USA says about itself:

C.I.A. Torture: Interrogating The Interrogators | The New York Times

21 June 2017

Two men who proposed interrogation techniques widely viewed as torture are part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of former C.I.A. detainees. Deposition videos, obtained exclusively by The New York Times, reveal new insights into the enhanced interrogation program and the C.I.A. officials behind it.

Read the story here.

By MAGGIE MICHAEL of Associated Press:

June 22, 7:57 AM EDT

In Yemen‘s secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates

MUKALLA, Yemen — Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme – including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. Interrogating detainees who have been abused could violate international law, which prohibits complicity in torture.

The AP documented at least 18 clandestine lockups across southern Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates or by Yemeni forces created and trained by the Gulf nation, drawing on accounts from former detainees, families of prisoners, civil rights lawyers and Yemeni military officials. All are either hidden or off limits to Yemen’s government,

The Saudi puppet Yemeni government in exile, only present in territory occupied by the Saudi absolute monarchy and its allies’ invasion forces.

which has been getting Emirati help in its civil war with rebels over the last two years.

The secret prisons are inside military bases, ports, an airport, private villas and even a nightclub. Some detainees have been flown to an Emirati base across the Red Sea in Eritrea, according to Yemen Interior Minister Hussein Arab and others.

Several U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the topic, told AP that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainees at locations in Yemen, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from Emirati allies. They said U.S. senior military leaders were aware of allegations of torture at the prisons in Yemen, looked into them, but were satisfied that there had not been any abuse when U.S. forces were present.

Inside war-torn Yemen, however, lawyers and families say nearly 2,000 men have disappeared into the clandestine prisons, a number so high that it has triggered near-weekly protests among families seeking information about missing sons, brothers and fathers.

None of the dozens of people interviewed by AP contended that American interrogators were involved in the actual abuses. Nevertheless, obtaining intelligence that may have been extracted by torture inflicted by another party would violate the International Convention Against Torture and could qualify as war crimes, said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University who served as special counsel to the Defense Department until last year

At one main detention complex at Riyan airport in the southern city of Mukalla, former inmates described being crammed into shipping containers smeared with feces and blindfolded for weeks on end. They said they were beaten, trussed up on the “grill,” and sexually assaulted. According to a member of the Hadramawt Elite, a Yemeni security force set up by the UAE, American forces were at times only yards away. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

“We could hear the screams,” said a former detainee held for six months at Riyan airport. “The entire place is gripped by fear. Almost everyone is sick, the rest are near death. Anyone who complains heads directly to the torture chamber.” He was flogged with wires, part of the frequent beatings inflicted by guards against all the detainees. He also said he was inside a metal shipping container when the guards lit a fire underneath to fill it with smoke.

Like other ex-detainees, he spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being arrested again. The AP interviewed him in person in Yemen after his release from detention.

The AP interviewed 10 former prisoners, as well as a dozen officials in the Yemeni government, military and security services and nearly 20 relatives of detainees. The chief of Riyan prison, who is well known among families and lawyers as Emirati, did not reply to requests for comment.

Laura Pitter, senior national security counsel at Human Rights Watch, said the abuses “show that the US hasn’t learned the lesson that cooperating with forces that are torturing detainees and ripping families apart is not an effective way to fight extremist groups.” Human Rights Watch issued a report Thursday documenting torture and forced disappearances at the UAE-run prisons and calling on the Emirates to protect detainees’ rights.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has praised the UAE as “Little Sparta” for its outsized role in fighting …

U.S. forces send questions to the Emirati forces holding the detainees, which then send files and videos with answers, said Yemeni Brig. Gen. Farag Salem al-Bahsani, commander of the Mukalla-based 2nd Military District, which American officials confirmed to the AP. He also said the United States handed authorities a list of most wanted men, including many who were later arrested.

Al-Bahsani denied detainees were handed over to the Americans and said reports of torture are “exaggerated.”

The network of prisons echoes the secret detention facilities set up by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In 2009, then-President Barack Obama disbanded the so-called “black sites.” The UAE network in war-torn Yemen was set up during the Obama administration and continues operating to this day.

“The UAE was one of the countries involved in the CIA’s torture and rendition program,” said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at NYU, who served as special counsel to the Defense Department until last year. “These reports are hauntingly familiar and potentially devastating in their legal and policy implications.”

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition meant to help Yemen’s [puppet] government [in exile] fight Shiite rebels known as Houthis …

A small contingent of American forces routinely moves in and out of Yemen, the Pentagon says, operating largely along the southern coast. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has escalated drone strikes in the country to more than 80 so far this year, up from around 21 in 2016, the U.S. military said. At least two commando raids were ordered against al-Qaida, including one in which a Navy SEAL was killed along with at least 25 civilians.

A U.S. role in questioning detainees in Yemen has not been previously acknowledged.

A Yemeni officer who said he was deployed for a time on a ship off the coast said he saw at least two detainees brought to the vessel for questioning. The detainees were taken below deck, where he was told American “polygraph experts” and “psychological experts” conducted interrogations. He did not have access to the lower decks. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation for discussing the operations.

Senior U.S. defense officials flatly denied the military conducts any interrogations of Yemenis on any ships.

The Yemeni officer did not specify if the ‘Americans on ships’ were U.S. military or intelligence personnel, private contractors, or some other group.

Two senior Yemen officials, one in Hadi’s Interior Ministry and another in the 1st Military District, based in Hadramawt province where Mukalla is located, also said Americans were conducting interrogations at sea, as did a former senior security official in Hadramawt. The three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the U.S. role.

The AP learned the names of five suspects held at black sites who were said to have been interrogated by Americans. The Yemeni official on the ship identified one of the detainees brought there. Four others were identified by former detainees who said they were told directly by the men themselves that they were questioned by Americans.

One detainee, who was not questioned by U.S. personnel, said he was subject to constant beatings by his Yemeni handlers but was interrogated only once.

“I would die and go to hell rather than go back to this prison,” he said. “They wouldn’t treat animals this way. If it was bin Laden, they wouldn’t do this.”

Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor and Desmond Butler in Washington and Ahmed al-Haj and Maad al-Zikry in Yemen contributed to this report.

Investigating the Yemen prison interrogation programs.

The United States and United Arab Emirates (UAE), in coordination with Yemeni proxy forces, are operating a network of torture chambers in the war-torn country into which hundreds of men have been disappeared: here.