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How to Report the Torture of Bradley Manning to the United Nations
Thanks to Ed Fisher
Sample information to include:
a. Full name of the victim:
Bradley E. Manning (born 17 December 1987), Private First Class (PFC), United States Army
b. Date on which the incident(s) of torture occurred (at least as to the month and year):
Ongoing from May, 2010.
The following is a summary of the conditions under which PFC Manning is being held, which in the opinion of experts and even International Law, constitute torture:
"Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning's detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries"
Journalist Glenn Greenwald has investigated and published an extensive report on this issue. Please refer to this article in full for more details:
c. Place where the person was seized (city, province, etc.) And location at which the torture was carried out (if known):
* Camp Arifjan, a military jail in Kuwait
* U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia
"Manning was arrested by agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010 and held in pre-trial confinement in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait."
d. Indication of the forces carrying out the torture:
The President of the United States, The Congress of The United States, The United States State Department, The United States Justice Department, The United States Department of Defense, The United States Army, The United States Navy, The United States Marine Corps. All of the above are responsible for this illegal activity.
Furthermore, the torture of PFC Manning is not an isolated incident, rather, it is part of a policy shift that has been documented in The United States over the course of at least two Administrations, those of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
For example, The United States has been found by the United Nations Committee against Torture to be responsible for:
* the US opinion that the Geneva Convention does not apply to, and would undermine, its War on Terror
* the US attempt to sidestep provisions of the Convention by applying it only to US territory, rather than areas under US control
* the fact that detainees are not always registered, depriving them of safeguards against acts of torture
* allegations of secret detention facilities which are not accessible to the International Red Cross
* the US refusal to comment over the existence of such facilities, and the allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment which have emanated from them
* the US involvement in enforced disappearances and its refusal to accept that this is a form of torture
* the rendition of subjects, without judicial procedure, to states where they face a real risk of torture
* the use of secret 'diplomatic assurances' to justify deporting detainees to country's with poor human rights records
* the indefinite detention of prisoners without charge at Guantanamo Bay without legal safeguards or judicial assessment of justification
* the inadequate training provided to police and military personnel on the UN's prohibition of torture
* the 2002 authorization of the use of interrogation techniques, such as water-boarding, shackling, sexual humiliation, and dogs, which have resulted in the deaths of some detainees
* the apparent impunity of police and military personnel accused of torture and not prosecuted
* the lenient sentences given to many people convicted of torture
* the proposal to withdraw the right of habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees
* the difficulties that victims of abuse have faced in obtaining redress and compensation
* the apparent failure to ban evidence obtained under torture from being used at military commissions, and the limitations placed on the right of detainees to complain
* substantiated information which indicates that US sanctioned executions can be accompanied by severe pain and suffering
* numerous, reliable reports of sexual assault of detainees and sexual violence perpetrated by detainees on each other, to which 'persons of differing sexual orientation' are particularly vulnerable
* the humiliation of female prisoners and the shackling of female detainees during childbirth
* the large number of children sentenced to life imprisonment
* the extensive use of electro-shock devices which have caused several deaths
* the harsh regime imposed in 'supermaximum' security prisons, and prolonged isolation periods which may be used as a form of punishment
* reports of brutality and excessive force used by law enforcement officers and the numerous allegations of the ill-treatment of racial minorities, migrants and homosexuals which have not been properly investigated.
e. Description of the form of torture used and any injury suffered as a result;
* PFC Manning has been placed in a form of solitary confinement that is cruel and unusual. This is a term utilized within US Constitutional Law, and US citizens are supposed to enjoy protection against this form of treatment.
The US Supreme Court has had occasion to adjudicate on this issue. As long ago as 1890, the US Supreme Court wrote:
"A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semifatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community. (In re Medley, 1890)"
The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners in Supermax Units
Reviewing What We Know and Recommending What Should Change
by Bruce A. Arrigo, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, firstname.lastname@example.org
and Jennifer Leslie Bullock, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
* Manning's solitary confinement is punitive:
"Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a "Maximum Custody Detainee," the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him."
* Manning's solitary confinement is known to cause permanent psychological and physical damage and is designed to inflict pain:
This is an excerpt from an interview with psychologist Dr. Atul Gawande on the effects of solitary confinement that can be considered as torture for their psychological and physically damaging effects:
"JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Glenn, in January we interviewed Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon in Boston and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. We asked him to talk about the effects of solitary confinement on prisoners.
DR. ATUL GAWANDE: The science of what happens to people deprived of social contact, is they have to fight for their sanity. And many lose their sanity. That reality, that we are social beings in our physiology, led me to ask the question, is solitary confinement, the way we’re practicing it now, torture? And you can’t read the cases—and I describe the cases of both hostages and people who are in prisons—and conclude that, number one, those experiences are different. They’re the same. Number two, you can’t conclude that it’s not torture.
What we have observed—and we’ve learned this from both hostages and from prisoners—is that you, first of all, you begin to lose the speed of thinking. You slow down to the point of needing sleep for hours a day and yet being tired. And then it advances to a point where you can dissociate, you begin losing touch with reality. One prisoner I spoke to, for example, after three months, you’re allowed to get a television, which he looked forward to as a chance for maybe a kind of social connection in the world. But by that point, he found the television was talking to him, asking him to kill people, and he had to stow it underneath his bunk just to be able to survive and live through this."
[see also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu4xGI4CKLQ]
* Manning's solitary confinement is designed to coerce "cooperation" with the Authorities:
Understanding the linkage between the US Government's intense interest in finding legal means to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the case of PFC Manning, it is possible to conclude that the torture of PFC Manning is being conducted in an effort to coerce him to testify against Assange.
This is from an article in the New York Times of 15 December 2010 by Charlie Savage:
U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks
"...Still, prosecutors would most likely need more than a chat transcript laying out such claims to implicate Mr. Assange, Professor Richman said. Even if prosecutors could prove that it was Private Manning writing the messages to Mr. Lamo, a court might deem the whole discussion as inadmissible hearsay evidence.
Prosecutors could overcome that hurdle if they obtain other evidence about any early contacts — especially if they could persuade Private Manning to testify against Mr. Assange. But two members of a support network set up to raise money for his legal defense, Jeff Paterson and David House, said Private Manning had declined to cooperate with investigators since his arrest in May. "
I have just brushed the surface of available material and easily found several references to the use of solitary confinement being a potential violation of International Law. Here are a few examples:
"the Convention Against Torture, defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted” for certain specified purposes, including punishment."
and from the same source:
"The European Court of Human Rights has rejected several challenges to solitary confinement under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. However, while denying particular claims, it has stated that solitary confinement is sometimes prohibited depending on the circumstances. Relevant circumstances include the length of the solitary confinement (indefinite length is prohibited), the extremeness of the isolation (“complete sensory isolation, coupled with total social isolation” is categorically prohibited), the reasons for prisoner’s isolation, and whether the prisoner receives appropriate psychological monitoring and treatment. Likewise, the U.N. Human Rights Committee has stated that “prolonged solitary confinement” may violate Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which forbids torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment."
f. Identify of the person or organization submitting the report (name and address, which will be kept confidential).
I am an individual. My Name is _________________________________________________. My address is ________________________________________.
[example comments follow]
I will leave the rest of this form unfilled, as I am not in a position to do more than to refer you to more press reports.
I urge you to please take this matter up and pursue all available avenues to stop the continuing violations of International Law that are ongoing against PFC Manning.
I also urge your organization to take this matter to its logical conclusion, which is that the United States has for several years now been accumulating a record of egregious violations of Human Rights against members of the public, both its own citizens and member of the international community.
I am in an awkward position. I have sent letters, signed petitions, marched in protest and otherwise sough to influence the government of The United States to correct these illegal policies being conducted in my name. I have had no satisfaction whatsoever in these efforts.
At this point, I feel that the mechanisms of an international body such as yours are my only recourse. The torture of detainees, both domestic and foreign as a matter of US policy is well-documented. The case of PFC Manning is as the saying goes, "the tip of the iceberg."
Thank you for your consideration of this serious matter.