Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ACLU on Mohammed Jawad (Post-Gitmo), Also Appendix M

The following is taken from ACLU's Blog of Rights, a site that should be on everyone's daily stop of websites:

Life after Gitmo

Today, the Los Angeles Times reports on the struggle of former Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad to readjust to freedom after spending roughly a third of his life in detention. In August, as a result of the ACLU’s habeas corpus petition on behalf of Jawad, he was finally released and sent home to Afghanistan after six-and-a-half-years in U.S. custody.

While in U.S. custody, Jawad, one of the youngest prisoners held at Guantánamo, was held in solitary confinement and subjected to the infamous “frequent flyer” sleep deprivation program. He attempted suicide in December 2003 by repeatedly slamming his head against his cell wall. Two judges — first his military commission judge, then a federal judge — ruled that evidence gleaned through Jawad’s torture and coercion was inadmissible.

The LA Times story sheds light on the difficulties of adjusting to life after Guantánamo:
[Jawad]…suffers from frequent headaches, he says, and often rests during the day. Prison memories haunt him, something doctors warn may never end. He worries about those left behind, his de facto family. He’s out and they’re not, and that’s a source of guilt. Though the Obama administration has said it will close Guantánamo, hundreds of detainees remain there and at Bagram.

He asks a reporter to tell President Obama, the United Nations, someone, to help them. “People there are sick,” he says. “They should be treated. They should be freed.”

As his anger rises, his uncle tells him not to think about the lost years.

But it spills out. He talks about having his hands bound behind his back and being forced to eat like a dog, being kicked, beaten and pepper-sprayed and subjected to excessive heat, loud noise, solitary confinement.

After a year, Guantánamo records show, Jawad tried to commit suicide by banging his head against his cell wall repeatedly.

“I was tortured and faced many problems,” he says. “They also play with your mind.”
In spite of this, Jawad has hope for the future. The article states that Jawad wants to be a doctor and “[h]e wants to resume his education, he says, even if it means sitting with 13-year-olds at tiny desks.” Jawad goes on to state, “That’s my dream… I don’t know if it’s possible. But that’s my dream.”

The story also quotes one of Jawad’s military lawyers, Eric Montalvo, as saying, “We need to do more than just dump him on the corner with a bus ticket after seven years and say, ‘Have a nice day.’”

Promptly and justly handling the cases of remaining prisoners is one part of the Guantánamo challenge. Honestly confronting the crimes committed in America’s name at the notorious prison camp is another. Americans deserve to know who authorized, condoned and encouraged the abuse and torture of detainees like Jawad; let Attorney General Eric Holder know that you stand with the ACLU and support a thorough investigation of torture crimes.
In other ACLU-related news, check out this article at truthout, "Obama Urged to Fully Comply with Anti-torture Treaty":
The fifteenth anniversary of the U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture passed last week with little fanfare and virtually no press attention from the mainstream media here.

But according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), "U.S. policy continues to fall short of ensuring full compliance with the treaty."

For example, the organisation said that an appendix to the Army Field Manual (AFM) can still facilitate cruel treatment of prisoners and detainees at home and abroad.

The Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT) is the most comprehensive international human rights treaty dealing exclusively with the issues of torture and abuse. It came into effect in 1987, and has been ratified by 146 countries....

After taking office, President Barack Obama issued an executive order prohibiting torture. But under an appendix to the 2006 revised U.S. Army Field Manual - the most recent edition - practices considered incompatible with CAT and international law are still allowed. These include force-feeding, psychological torture, sleep and sensory deprivation.

And under Appendix M to the AFM, detainees can be "separated" or held in isolation from other detainees for 30 days, or longer with authorisation, and allowed only four hours of continuous sleep per night over 30 days, which can be prolonged upon approval.
Bravo to the ACLU for all their great work, and a special thanks from this activist, who has made opposition to use of the current Army Field Manual as a template for interrogation, for reasons noted by the ACLU and amplified in articles of my own, a central component of my anti-torture writing.

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