Tag Archives: Torture

Seeking Justice for Torture in Abu Ghraib

Abu Ghraib prisoner, CC wikimedia.

The Al Shimari v CACI case

In 2008, the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) brought a federal lawsuit – Al Shimari v. CACI . This lawsuit addresses the torture of four Iraqi men, held in Abu Ghraib prison during 2003-2004, by the private contractor CACI International Inc. and CACI Premier Technology Inc. The case is the last Abu Ghraib case in the system and, if it goes to trial, will be heard in the midst of the Trump Presidency.

The CCR assert “that CACI directed and participated in illegal conduct, including torture, at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where it was hired by the U.S. to provide interrogation services”. The case covers violations of US and international law – including war crimes, sexual assaults and tortures.

The four victims  – Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari; Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid; Asa’ad Hamza Hanfoosh Zuba’e; Salah Hasan Nusaif Al-Ejaili – were all released without ever being charged of any crime.  They all continue to suffer mental and physical injuries from their torture that included electric shocks, food deprivation, being threatened by dogs, stress positions, beatings, sexual assaults, sensory deprivation, and being kept naked.

Continue reading Seeking Justice for Torture in Abu Ghraib

Dehumanising Treatment as ‘Risk Prevention’

Tie Down Bed, Auckland Prison (Ombudsman, 2017:22)

In NZ, At Risk Units hold prisoners who are ‘at risk’ of suicide or self-harm. They are environments of deprivation. In 2016, the Ombudsman’s Office reported daily routines of long prisoner lockdowns in ‘bleak’ and ‘grim’ conditions (2016a, 2016b). ARU prisoners are usually locked in a barren cell for up to 23 hours a day. Clothed in anti-rip gowns, they are watched via camera all the time, including when they use their in-cell toilet.

In an unannounced visit to Otago, the Ombudsman found an ARU prisoner who was held ‘in a waist restraint with his hands cuffed behind his back…due to his self-harming’ (Ombudsman, 2016c:17). Over two and a half months, the man had spent at least 21 hours a day in the restraint:

He was un-cuffed every two hours during the day and every four hours at night in order to stretch his muscles, take a shower or eat his meals (average three hours unlock a day). He was able to watch some TV in his cell from late afternoon” (Ombudsman, 2016c:18).

There was ‘no evidence of therapeutic intervention or psychological support…having taken place’ for this prisoner or any other in the Unit (Ombudsman, 2016c:18). Continue reading Dehumanising Treatment as ‘Risk Prevention’

Bringing Torture to US Neighborhoods

On the campaign trail and now in office, President Trump has made his position on torture very clear: It works, and even if it doesn’t, “they deserve it anyway.”

Trump delivered this applause line at a rally in Ohio in late 2015, and again a few months later in South Carolina. In a debate among Republican presidential candidates early last year, he said he would bring back “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” Last month, as president, he affirmed his stance, telling ABC News: “We have to fight fire with fire.”

Until the president signs an executive order on the treatment of terrorism suspects, we will not know what his administration’s exact designs are, or if they are legal or achievable. But in at least one significant way, damage has already been done…Trump’s repeated pro-torture statements have already created a more permissive atmosphere for torture. The effects may be felt sooner, and closer to home, than we would like to think. Continue reading Bringing Torture to US Neighborhoods