Saturday, August 23, 2008

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Torture At Gitmo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- An Algerian prisoner at Guantanamo Bay has accused his guards of using [water torture] on him, his lawyer said Friday, marking the first allegation that the harsh interrogation technique was used at the U.S. military base.

A human rights commission of the Organization of American States, after being informed of the alleged abuse, said Friday that it has asked the U.S. State Department to ensure that Djamel Ameziane is not mistreated and receives medical care.

Officials at Guantanamo and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but they have said repeatedly that all Guantanamo detainees are treated humanely.

Ameziane, who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since February 2002 without being charged with crimes, told his lawyer Wells Dixon that guards at the base placed a water hose between his nose and mouth and ran it for several minutes. Ameziane said they repeated the procedure several times, nearly suffocating him.

"I had the impression that my head was sinking in water," Ameziane, 41, wrote his lawyer. "I still have psychological injuries, up to this day. Simply thinking of it gives me the chills."

According to Ameziane's account, during the same incident the guards applied pepper spray all over his body, hosed him down, and left him shackled and shivering in wet clothes in front of an air conditioner in an interrogation room.

Confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and at least two other "high-value" detainees imprisoned at the base in southeast Cuba were waterboarded -- an interrogation tactic that produces the sensation of drowning -- but they were waterboarded at CIA secret prisons before they were transferred to Guantanamo.

Dixon said in a telephone interview the alleged abuse happened early during Ameziane's confinement at Guantanamo.

"He was held down and someone essentially shoved a hose in his face, forcing a stream of water down his nose, mouth and into his lungs I guess," Dixon said.

Lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a law group that represents scores of Guantanamo detainees, on Aug. 6 filed a petition on behalf of Ameziane with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, asking that it intercede with the U.S. to protect the detainee.

The group said the commission, which is an autonomous organ of the OAS, agreed and issued "urgent precautionary measures" with the U.S. on Wednesday.

An official with the OAS-affiliated group confirmed it has asked the State Department to ensure he is treated humanely, given medical treatment and not transferred to a country where he could be tortured.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is empowered to request that a member state adopt specific "precautionary measures" to prevent human rights abuses, but can also urge the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to order that measures be taken, and can submit cases to the court. The United States is a member of the OAS.

Via Raw Story, link here.

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