New Evidence Of Abuse At Bagram Underscores Need For Full Disclosure About Prison, Says ACLU
NEW YORK - Former
detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and
threatened with dogs at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, according
to a new BBC report based on interviews with former detainees held at
Bagram between 2002 and 2006. Hundreds of detainees are still being
held in U.S. custody at the Bagram prison without charge or trial.
"When prisoners are in American
custody and under American control, no matter the location, our values
and commitment to the rule of law are at stake," said Jonathan Hafetz,
staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union National
Security Project. "Torture and abuse at Bagram is further evidence that
prisoner abuse in U.S. custody was systemic, not aberrational, and
originated at the highest levels of government. We must learn the truth
about what went wrong, hold the proper people accountable and make sure
these failed policies are not continued or repeated."
In April, the ACLU filed a Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) request for records pertaining to the
detention and treatment of prisoners held at Bagram, including the
number of people currently detained, their names, citizenship, place of
capture and length of detention. The ACLU is also seeking records
pertaining to the process afforded those prisoners to challenge their
detention and designation as "enemy combatants."
"The U.S. government's detention of
hundreds of prisoners at Bagram has been shrouded in complete secrecy,"
said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security
Project. "The American people have a right to know what's happening at
Bagram and whether prisoners have been tortured there."
In a related case, the ACLU is
representing former Bagram prisoner Mohammed Jawad in a habeas corpus
challenge to his indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay. The Afghan
government recently sent a letter to the U.S. government suggesting
Jawad was as young as 12 when he was captured in Afghanistan and taken
to Bagram, where he was tortured. Despite the fact that the primary
evidence against Jawad was thrown out in his military commission case
at Guantánamo because it was derived through torture, the U.S.
government continues to rely on such evidence – including evidence
obtained during interrogations at Bagram – in Jawad's current habeas
case to justify holding him indefinitely.
The ACLU's FOIA request, including a complete list of documents being requested, is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/
More about Jawad's case is online at: www.aclu.org/jawad
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.