Tortured Iraqis win British court case

This video from Britain says about itself:

9 September 2011

The government and the British army say the illegal torture and interrogation techniques used in Iraq, and which caused the death of Baha Mousa, were the acts of a few “bad apples”. In fact, for five years, illegal and brutal techniques classified as torture under international law, were common practice throughout the British army in Iraq. The shocking treatment of prisoners in this video, which was presented as evidence at the UK inquiry into the army’s use of torture, is just a glimpse of what took place in at least 14 interrogation centres.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Thursday, December 14, 2017 – 17:37

Human Rights

Iraqi civilians win High Court case over abuse by British soldiers

FOUR Iraqi citizens have won tens of thousands of pounds in damages after they were subjected to degrading abuse at the hands of British soldiers during the Iraq war.

High Court judge Mr Justice Leggatt ruled on Thursday that the Ministry of Defence had breached the Geneva conventions and the Human Rights Act over its ill-treatment and unlawful detention of civilians.

The degrading treatment included soldiers taking turns running over the backs of detained civilians and hooding them.

Lawyers said yesterday’s ruling could set a precedent for hundreds of abuse claims of Iraqis during the war.

There are more than 600 unresolved claims in what is known as the Iraqi Civilian Litigation.

Mr Leggatt announced his conclusions after overseeing two High Court trials during which Iraqi citizens gave evidence in an English courtroom for the first time.

The judge himself conceded that “some of the factual issues raised are likely to affect many of the remaining cases in the litigation.”

In his judgment, he made clear that “none of the claimants was engaged in terrorist activities or posed any threat to the security of Iraq.”

Human rights law firm Leigh Day, which represented two of the claimants, praised the ruling.

Leigh Day international claims team partner Sapna Malik said: “These trials took place against an onslaught of political, military and media slurs of Iraqis bringing spurious claims, and strident criticism of us, as lawyers, representing them.

“Yet we have just witnessed the rule of law in action. Our clients are grateful that the judge approached their claims without any preconception or presumption that allegations of misconduct by British soldiers are inherently unlikely to be true.”

Abd Al-Waheed, who was arrested in a house raid carried out by British soldiers in Basra city in February 2007, was awarded the largest sum — a total of £33,300.

He was awarded £15,000 in “respect of the beating” he suffered after his arrest and £15,000 for further abuse including “being deprived of sleep and being deprived of sight and hearing,” the judge said.

Mr Al-Waheed was awarded a further £3,300 for unlawful detention for 33 days.


Pentagon keeps killing Afghan civilians

This Associated Press video says about itself:

First anniversary of deadly NATO airstrike


Char Dara district, Kunduz province – 29 August 2010

1. Mid of site where airstrike on tankers happened
FILE: Char Dara district, Kunduz province – 05 September 2009

2. Former NATO commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal visiting the site a day after strike, burnt tanker in background

3. Mid of McChrystal and other NATO officials

4. Various of destroyed tanker
Char Dara district, Kunduz province – 29 August 2010

5. Zoom out of site

6. Mid of children playing at site
Char Dara district, Kunduz province – 27 August 2010

7. Wide of locals in Char Dara district

8. House of Haji Abdul Basir, who lost three of his sons and one of his grandsons in the strike

9. Various of Basir’s family

10. SOUNDBITE (Dari) Haji Abdul Basir, father and grand father of strike victims:

“Germany is our biggest enemy; they bombed us because of the two fuel tankers. If they hadn’t done what they did we would have been ready to sell our lands and pay them the cost of the tankers.”

11. Mid of Basir’s grandchild
Kunduz city, Kunduz province – 29 August 2010

12. SOUNDBITE (Dari) Hayatullah Khan, provincial director for Afghan Human Rights Commission in Kunduz:

“From the day after the incident, the commission started its investigation on the incident. After ongoing meetings with German PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Kunduz and meeting officials from German Defence ministry, we asked them if they could help the families of the victims in a way to repent for what happened and we also asked them to make sure there will not be anymore civilian casualties in future military operations.”

Kunduz city, Kunduz province – 31 August 2010

13. Wide shot of NATO military base in Kunduz province

14. SOUNDBITE (German) Major Stephen Wessel, German military spokesman in Kunduz:

“The one who did that from a military point of view at the time, who was responsible, had his reasons to act as he had decided. I can’t say anything more than this at this point.”

15. Close of hands

16. SOUNDBITE (German) Major Stephen Wessel, German military spokesman in Kunduz:

“The German army supported financially the victims’ relatives we could research and concerning this, the compensation to the victims’ relatives is now over. There are no further intention of support from the German army’s side. Beyond that, there are some further projects to support, but the security situation here in the region doesn’t allow for it at the moment.”
Kunduz city, Kunduz province – 29 August 2010

17. Wide of police checking cars and people in Kunduz city, rifle in foreground

18. Various shots of police checking car

19. Wide of checkpoint


A year after a German-ordered airstrike on two tankers in Afghanistan that is believed to have killed scores of civilians, families in Char Dara are remembering their relatives.

On 4th September 2009, German Colonel Georg Klein ordered the NATO airstrike against two tanker trucks that had been seized by Taliban insurgents near Kunduz, fearing they could be used to attack troops.

The attack in the northern Afghan province killed up to 142 people, many of them civilians.

German officials have said the Taliban may have been planning a suicide attack on the military’s base using the hijacked tankers.

A year on, 65-year old Haji Abdul Basir was embittered by the incident which took the lives of his three sons and one of his grandsons.

“Germany is our biggest enemy they bombed us because of the two fuel tankers. If they hadn’t done what they did we would have been ready to sell our lands and pay them the cost of tankers,” said Basir.

Hayatullah Khan, the provincial director of the commission added that the issue of the civilian casualties in the military operations still remains a concern for them.

That was 2009-2010 in Char Dara district in Afghanistan.

Now, over eight years later, the bloodshed of Char Dara civilians has not stopped.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US airstrikes kill dozens of Afghan civilians

7 November 2017

Reports from local officials and Afghan legislators have exposed mass civilian casualties in an offensive carried out last weekend by US and Afghan puppet forces in northern Kunduz province.

Some reports have put the death toll from the bombing raids in the Char Dara district at over 60, with women and children among the victims.

The Pentagon acknowledged that US forces had carried out an operation in Kunduz province, issuing its standard response, asserting that it “takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously” and is investigating the reports.

The area of the attacks was west of the provincial capital of Kunduz, in a rural district where the Taliban has long maintained control.

According to the News International, Pakistan’s largest English language daily, Afghan security forces surrounded the three villages where the air strikes had taken place—Essa Khil, Qatl-e Aam and Uzbek Bazar—preventing relatives from collecting the bodies of their loved ones and interfering with any attempt to discover the precise death toll.

Khosh Mohammad Nasratyar, a provincial council member, gave an estimate of 55 civilians killed, while an Afghan aid worker in the area said the dead numbered at least 40. Others said that more than 60 had died.

President Ashraf Ghani has made no comment on the slaughter in Kunduz. His predecessor, Hamid Karzai, however, strongly condemned the air strikes, demanding an investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. Karzai, who left the presidential palace three years ago, has been strongly critical of the escalating US war in Afghanistan, accusing Washington of wanting to prolong the bloodshed in Afghanistan as a means of pursuing its own strategic interests in the region.

The latest air strikes were among the most intense in recent months, rattling windows in Kunduz city, which in 2015 was the scene of one of the bloodiest aerial massacres carried out by the US military in the course of its 16-year-old war in Afghanistan. In October of that year, a US AC-130U gunship carried out a protracted attack on a Doctors Without Borders medical center that left 42 dead, 33 missing and 30 wounded amid ghastly scenes of patients burning to death in their hospital beds.

Since US President Donald Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy in August, ceding to the military brass the authority to set troop levels and guaranteeing the Pentagon “the necessary tools and rules of engagement” to escalate what is now America’s longest war, there has been a marked intensification of the bloodletting that has claimed at least 175,000 Afghan lives and turned millions into refugees.

This has come mainly as a result of intensified air strikes. In its October report on civilian casualties, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that the number of civilians dying as a result of bombs and missiles dropped on the country from US and Afghan government aircraft had soared by 52 percent during the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period last year.

The Pentagon is also increasing troop levels in the country, reportedly sending at least 3,000 more soldiers and Marines, bringing the official strength of the US occupation force to roughly 15,000. According to a recently disclosed Pentagon report, the US is now spending some $3.2 billion a month on the Afghanistan war, with that figure expected to rise along with the ongoing escalation.

The CIA is also reportedly expanding its role in the Afghan war, seeking authorization to initiate its own drone strikes inside Afghanistan—previously it had been restricted to cross-border missile strikes against Pakistan—and to organize “hunt and kill” militias to carry out assassinations and massacres in Taliban-held areas of the country.

In the midst of the US escalation, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) has formally requested judicial authorization to open an investigation into war crimes carried out in connection with the protracted US war in Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan has been the subject of a “preliminary examination” by the ICC for over a decade, during which countless crimes have been carried out against the Afghan people. Both Washington and its puppet government in Kabul have strongly opposed the court’s moving forward toward any investigation and potential charges.

Among charges that the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, intends to pursue are that the CIA and the US military, along with the Afghan security forces, engaged in the systematic torture of detainees as a matter of state policy.

A Preliminary Examination Report issued last year charged that the US intelligence agency and the Pentagon “resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and rape.” It specifically cited the cases of 61 individual detainees subjected to torture on Afghan territory between 2003 and 2014 by the US military, as well as those of 21 detainees of the CIA who were tortured, abused and raped both in Afghanistan and at CIA “black sites” in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

The ICC prosecutor’s office stressed that these crimes were “not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” but rather were carried out in pursuit of “US objectives in the conflict in Afghanistan.”

Since its foundation in 2000, the US has refused to participate in the ICC, out of justifiable fear that US civilian and military officials could end up in the dock for crimes carried out by the Pentagon and the CIA in the multiple US wars and interventions waged in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and beyond. Legislation passed in 2002, the American Service Members Protection Act (dubbed the “Hague Invasion Act”), bars any cooperation from Washington on charges brought against US war criminals and authorizes the US president to employ military force to rescue any American military or intelligence personnel detained by ICC prosecutors.

The Obama administration also imposed upon Washington’s Afghan puppet regime a 2014 Status of Forces Agreement that bars any transfer of Americans accused of war crimes to any international tribunal, granting Washington sole jurisdiction over its own personnel operating in Afghanistan.

While Obama defended the CIA torturers who operated under the Bush administration, Trump has publicly declared his support for waterboarding and other forms of torture. While there has been no official US reaction to the ICC prosecutor’s request for authorization to pursue an investigation, it is clear that Washington will do everything it can to suppress such a probe.

CIA’s military role in Afghan morass shows need for open democracy in age of hidden violence: here.

The U.S. is on track to have dropped three times as many bombs on Afghanistan this year than last.

US bombing of Afghanistan up by 300 percent: here.

Uzbekistan and CIA torture

This video from the USA says about itself:

Uzbekistan Cooperated with CIA Rendition & Torture Post-9/11, As Govt. Boiled Dissidents Alive

2 November 2017

Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged assailant in the Tuesday attack that killed at least eight people in New York City, is an immigrant from Uzbekistan, a country that is now the focus of much attention, with some in the media calling it a hotbed of Islamist terror. We go to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to speak with Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch. We’re also joined by Edward Lemon, postdoctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

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.

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.