Bahrain’s torture ‘evidence’ to condemn people to death


This video is about torture in Bahrain.

From Reprieve in Britain:

Bahrain uses torture evidence to sentence three more to death

January 9, 2017

Bahrain’s highest court has today (9th January) upheld the death sentences of three men, despite allegations that they were tortured into making false confessions. Their executions are now imminent.

Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace were originally sentenced to death in February 2015.

All three were tortured into signing false ‘confessions’ that were used against them in court.

Mr Mushaima was forced to sign documents despite being illiterate. He is a relative of a prominent opposition politician, but has never been involved in activism.

Mr al-Samea was admitted to hospital for surgery as a result of his interrogation. He is a PE teacher and aspiring photojournalist who had taken pictures at a protest.

The three men’s death sentences were overturned in October 2016 after a court ruled that their initial sentences were “misjudgements.”

However, in December 2016, the appeals court reinstated their death sentences.

Human rights organization Reprieve wrote to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May asking her to raise the issue of police torture and the death penalty ahead of her meeting in Bahrain last month.

Millions of pounds in UK government aid have been spent on training Bahrain’s police, prison guards and torture watchdog in recent years.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“It is extremely alarming that Bahrain, a close ally of Britain, is gearing up to execute three people, all of whom were convicted on the basis of false ‘confessions’ extracted through torture. Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace will be the first people to be executed in Bahrain in six years. All three were charged with political offences and tortured into signing ‘confessions’ that were used against them in court – despite one of them being illiterate and not able to read the document. On her recent visit to Bahrain, Theresa May said that the UK ‘does not uphold our values and human rights by turning our back on this issue’ yet apparently declined to raise the cases of these prisoners facing imminent execution. The UK must do more to ensure its close allies do not render them complicit in the gravest abuses.”

UK trains Bahraini troops as May puts trade before human rights: here.

British government helps torture in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain


This video says about itself:

No End to Torture in Bahrain

22 November 2015

Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation. Institutions set up after 2011 to receive and investigate complaints lack independence and transparency.

Human Rights Watch has concluded that security forces have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The commission was established after the fierce repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March of that year. Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture, Human Rights Watch found.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Britain: ‘Complicit in Rights Abuses by Torture States’

Thursday 22nd December 2016

British police provide training to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – Techniques used to identify and arrest people who are then tortured

BRITAIN was accused of complicity with the death penalty yesterday after a report revealed that police and security training is provided without safeguards to countries that torture and execute children.

International human rights organisation Reprieve suggested that there may have been a cover-up and demanded an end to support for death penalty states after freedom of information (FOI) requests revealed that officers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been trained in Britain without the required human rights checks being conducted.

Assessments are necessary before support and training is given to those states where arrests could lead to the death penalty.

Official guidance on the provision of overseas security and justice assistance said it should meet “our human rights obligations and values” and, before assistance is given, requests should also be considered by the International Police Assistance Board.

However Reprieve claims that its FOI requests found that no such assessments had been done by the UK College of Policing, which conducted the training.

The National Police Chiefs Council came under fire in June for continuing to provide training to Saudi police despite identifying a risk that “the skills being trained are used to identify individuals who later go on to be tortured or subjected to other human rights abuses.”

In November, the council said the publication of this information had been a mistake and it would not release similar documents in the future.

Both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia use the death penalty and have tortured people involved in anti-government or pro-reform protests.

In Saudi Arabia, Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher were all children when they were arrested for their involvement in demonstrations calling for reform. They are currently on death row awaiting execution.

In Bahrain, police officer Mohammed Ramadan faces the death penalty for having told interrogators while under torture that he had attacked other officers after joining a pro-democracy protest.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman claimed the government continues to raise concerns over the cases cited by Reprieve with the respective governments and that it “opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in all countries.”

“The British government consistently and unreservedly condemns torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and it is a priority for us to combat it wherever and whenever it occurs.”

On the case of Mr Nimr and the two others convicted while they were juveniles, she said: “We expect that they will not be executed. Nevertheless, we continue to raise these cases with the Saudi authorities.”

But Maya Foa, who heads Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “At best this is incompetence, at worst a cover-up; either way, the result is that this training risks rendering the UK complicit in the death penalty.

“It is shocking that neither Police Scotland nor the UK College of Policing hold any information about what human rights assessments were undertaken before this training went ahead.

“The conclusion is that once again, the UK’s policy on the death penalty has been ignored. Support to police forces in death penalty states such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain must be suspended until they can show real progress — starting with scrapping the death sentences handed down to children and political protesters.”

The Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are rightly proud of the British model of policing and it is not surprising that there is an international appetite to learn from the best.”

Britain has a long history of involvement in Bahrain, with many British citizens having served in top roles with its internal security services.

The most notorious was Ian Henderson, a colonial officer in Kenya and head of various police agencies in Bahrain from 1966 to 1998. He presided over torture and was accused by opposition groups of “masterminding a ruthless campaign of repression.”

Much torture in Turkish prisons


This video says about itself:

‘I was tortured in Turkey‘ – BBC News

28 November 2016

The UN’s special investigator on torture has arrived in Turkey following allegations of rape and abuse by the country’s security forces, after July’s failed coup. Tens of thousands of people have been jailed in a crackdown that has been condemned by activists and several western governments. Mark Lowen‘s report contains details some viewers may find disturbing.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

“Much torture in Turkish prisons weeks after coup”

Today, 19:21

In the days and weeks following the coup in Turkey it looks like detainees have widely been tortured and mistreated. That concludes the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer after a six-day visit to Turkey. There he spoke with authorities and prisoners.

The torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners was encouraged by the special security measures after the coup of July 15, Melzer told news agency AP.

So someone can be held thirty days before a judge decides whether he should be detained any longer. And in the first five days after a person is arrested, he has no right to a lawyer. “Right then, the risk of torture and inhumane treatment is greatest,” said Melzer.

Zero-tolerance policy

Formally, Turkey regarding torture has a zero-tolerance policy, but allegations of torture are not investigated, said Melzer. Lawyers’ organizations that gathered evidence about police misconduct have been banned.

Human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said this autumn already that Turkey tortures prisoners.

Amnesty says that happened even before the coup, especially in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey. “But after July 15 we saw an explosion,” said an Amnesty researcher to AP.

Will Trump destroy CIA torture evidence?


This video says about itself:

The Dark Prison: The Legacy of the CIA Torture Programme – Fault Lines

24 March 2016

“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

It’s been more than a year since US President Barack Obama admitted that the CIA tortured prisoners at its interrogation centres.

While the CIA has long admitted the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning by pouring water into a person’s nose and mouth, a truncated and heavily redacted report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December 2015 detailed other abuses that went beyond previous disclosures.

Reading like a script from a horror film, some of the techniques involved prisoners being slapped and punched while being dragged naked up and down corridors, being kept in isolation in total darkness, subject to constant deafening music, rectal rehydration and being locked in coffin-shaped boxes.

Critical to the development of the CIA’s brutal interrogation programme was a legal memo that said the proposed methods of interrogation were not torture if they did not cause “organ failure, death or permanent damage”.

Despite failing to produce any useful information about imminent terrorist attacks, the CIA meted out these and other brutal treatments for years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

And with dozens of people having since been released without charge, and at least a quarter of them officially declared to have been “wrongfully detained“, the effects of torture live on with the victims, burned into their minds.

In this episode of Fault Lines, we explore the plight of these men struggling to overcome their harrowing experiences of torture since leaving CIA-run black sites.

By Laura Barron-Lopez, Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post in the USA:

Senate Democrat Urges Obama To Ensure The CIA Torture Report Won’t Disappear

Ron Wyden is worried the report could be destroyed under the Trump administration if it’s not made a federal record.

12/02/2016 07:00 am ET

WASHINGTON ― If President Barack Obama wants to codify his legacy on banning the use of torture in U.S. intelligence gathering, he should declassify the 6,700-page CIA torture report and make it a federal record, according to a top Senate Democrat.

Ron Wyden, a vocal member of the Senate intelligence committee, has long urged the administration to declassify the report with necessary redactions. But now he’s pressuring Obama to make the report a document of federal record before he leaves office ― protecting it from possible destruction under a Donald Trump presidency.

With Trump heading to the White House in just under two months, the Oregon Democrat told The Huffington Post it’s “more important than ever” that the American public know what is in the full torture report.

Something Obama “can do today on this,” Wyden said, is “make sure the report isn’t destroyed and lost to history.”

“All that the president needs to do is direct that the report be a federal record under the Federal Records Act, and an agency record pursuant to [the Freedom of Information Act], and then it can be disseminated widely to appropriate, cleared agencies,” Wyden said in his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday.

On his second day in office Obama used his executive authority to ban “enhanced interrogation” techniques authorized by President George W. Bush, but his administration decided not to press charges against individuals involved in the torture program. Prompted by revelations that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of some of its interrogations, the Senate intelligence committee voted in 2009 to investigate the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. In December 2014, the Democrats on the committee released a 525-page executive summary of their findings. They concluded that the CIA’s interrogation program used techniques far more brutal than it had previously disclosed and misled the public about the efficacy of the program in producing intelligence.

The full report remains classified. Lawyers who represent detainees at Guantanamo who were previously held at CIA black sites say the executive summary of the torture report reveals only a small part of the abuse their clients endured.

The Obama administration has been less than eager to declassify the report, with agencies directed to keep their copies unopened. Even less transparency is expected from his successor. Trump, a real estate businessman with no prior government experience, said earlier this year that he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Trump’s sympathetic stance toward torture is why Wyden thinks the president-elect wouldn’t think twice about the destruction of a report long mired in controversy.

“It seems to me ― and this’ll be the argument we’d be making to the administration ― that the president wants a legacy issue,” Wyden said. “This is something he can do today that will be very meaningful, and frankly we’re very concerned that it’s just going to get destroyed and that will be that.”

Making the torture report a federal record would not require its declassification, but making it an agency record would open it up to a Freedom of Information Act request. Even then, it can be redacted in part or full.

The report, an “exhaustive history with hundreds of footnotes,” should “at a minimum” be protected, Wyden said.

Wyden pointed to Trump’s campaign promises, the views of those he’s surrounding himself with, and comments made by his Republican colleagues as proof there’s a real threat the report could be lost forever.

In January 2015, during his first month as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) requested that the White House return every copy of the document that had been distributed to the administration officials and federal agencies. In a letter to Obama, Burr wrote: “I consider that report to be a highly classified and committee sensitive document.”

“It should not be entered into any Executive Branch system of records,” Burr continued.

At the time, Burr also said he planned to give back a critical secret document, the Panetta Review, that underpins the entire Senate investigation into the CIA’s torture program.

Burr never got the copies of the torture report back; the White House said it would “preserve the status quo.”

But once Republicans have complete control of the federal government from the White House on down, it only follows that Burr would again request to have the last copies of the secret report returned. And what he does with them after that is pretty much up to him.

That means the fate of the infamous document would depend on individual senators like Wyden fighting to keep it in existence until it can be declassified.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who led the intel committee during the investigation and when the report was released, is also pushing for Obama to declassify the document.

She hasn’t always been supportive, however. A New Yorker report published in the summer of 2015 said Wyden, then-Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) rarely aligned with Feinstein on surveillance and tried to convince her to push for the entire declassification of the report.

“Feinstein, concerned that the information in the full report would be too inflammatory, decided that the executive summary sufficed for the time being,” according to the New Yorker.

She’s changed her mind since, and handed a letter to Vice President Joe Biden to give to Obama last week, urging him to make it public.

“The time has come to declassify the report, allow the general public to make up its own mind,” Feinstein said, according to Politico. At least, those that’ll read 7,000 pages.”

So far, the White House response has not been encouraging.

“It was not a full-throated: ‘We are gonna declassify the report,” Wyden said of recent statements coming from the administration. “So we’ve got some heavy lifting to do on that.”

In the final days of the Obama administration, Wyden says, he plans to focus on preserving the torture report so people understand what the CIA engaged in when interrogating suspected terrorists, and “that it’s contrary to our values; contrary to our laws.”

“I want to amp up the concern I have to make sure that this full report is not destroyed,” he said. “That’s all the more reason why the report ought to be put in hands of American people so that you can have a real debate about this.”

White House spokesman Ned Price didn’t comment on Obama’s plans for the report or on calls by Democratic senators for it to be declassified or made a federal record.

When Feinstein disseminated the copies nearly two years ago there were eight: one sent to the White House, two to the CIA (one for the inspector general, which was “mistakenly” deleted) and the rest to five different agencies.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday on the status of the various copies.

Jessica Schulberg contributed reporting.

On December 28, US District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered a complete copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program during the Bush administration to be delivered to a federal courthouse, where it is to be preserved in a safe by a judicial security officer. Lawyers for torture victim Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri requested this extraordinary measure on the grounds that efforts were underway within the other branches of the US government to destroy and erase every copy of the full report: here.

US Americans suspected of torture in Afghanistan


This video says about itself:

US: Ex-Detainee Describes Unreported CIA Torture

3 October 2016

A Tunisian man formerly held in secret United States Central Intelligence Agency custody have described previously unreported methods of torture that shed new light on the earliest days of the CIA program. Lotfi al-Arabi El Gherissi, 52, recounted being severely beaten with batons, threatened with an electric chair, subjected to various forms of water torture, and being chained by his arms to the ceiling of his cell for a long period.

The United States repatriated El Gherissi to Tunisia on June 15, 2015, after 13 years in custody without charges or trial. He was not provided compensation or support for his wrongful detention or the torture he endured, nor was he provided help to cope with the physical and mental harm incurred. Today he is destitute, unable to work, and experiencing the consequences of serious physical and emotional trauma he believes is a direct result of his treatment in US custody.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

International Criminal Court suspects Americans of torture of Afghan prisoners

Today, 02:53

The International Criminal Court in The Hague says the US has possibly tortured prisoners in Afghanistan. Prosecutors say that the suspicions were raised on the basis of a preliminary examination. The US military and the CIA would thus have committed war crimes.

A report states that there are indications that the military has tortured at least 61 detainees, especially in 2003 and 2004. In the same period CIA employees are said to have tortured at least 27 people in secret prisons in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Interrogation technique

The alleged crimes, according to the report, were not the work of a few individuals. It seems that the torture was part of an approved interrogation technique with which the US hoped to get “useful information“.

Prosecutors say they will soon decide whether they are going to ask for permission to do an extensive study in Afghanistan about war crimes.

The US itself is not a member of the ICC, but US citizens can be prosecuted if they have committed crimes in a country which is a member, such as Afghanistan. The question is whether it ever will come to that. Even if sufficient evidence will be provided, the very question remains whether Washington will cooperate in prosecution of its nationals by the ICC. In the past, the US has made clear that it will not accept that American soldiers may stand trial in The Hague.

U.S. President George Bush signed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court. The law authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court, which is located in The Hague. This provision, dubbed the “Hague invasion clause,” has caused a strong reaction from U.S. allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands: here.

Some African countries which had originally recognized the ICC are now threatening to withdraw. Because in practice the ICC prosecutes only Africans; while rich suspects from rich countries, like Tony Blair from Britain, go scot-free.

Also, there are African suspects and quite other African suspects. Bashir, dictator of Sudan, was indicted by the ICC when he had a bad relationship with NATO governments. However, in 2011 Bashir became an ally in the NATO war of regime change against Libya. And now the European Union considers him an ally in stopping African refugees from dictatorship, war and famine. So, probably Bashir will never be on trial in The Hague; unless governments of rich countries will consider he is no longer useful as an ally.

One may wonder which U.S. individuals the ICC may indict now. Only privates? Or will they be a little more courageous, and indict even corporals? Or will they be really courageous, and indict people like Bush’s Secretary of War ‘Defence’ Donald Rumsfeld or Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney?

The first American troops left for Afghanistan in 2001 …. At the height of the mission, there were 100,000 American soldiers.

President Obama has long said all US Americans would be home at the end of his term, but he said last summer that still 8,400 soldiers will remain in the country, because of the precarious security situation.

See also here.

The International Criminal Court is investigating US war crimes. But there’s a huge catch: here.