Recently, The Nation and The New York Times disclosed that theCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) may be involved in the transfer of suspectedterrorists to Somalia for detention and interrogation, in violation of US andinternational law.
Of particular concern to PHR are reportsthat detainees are being held in small, filthy, windowless cells infested withbedbugs and mosquitoes that relentlessly torment detainees. Furthermore, theprison is reportedly underground, resulting in detainees having no time outside. Reports also indicate that many have been there more than a year and are exhibiting signs ofmental stress, such as pacing or rocking themselves against the wallscontinuously.
Finally, detainees mayhave never been brought before a court nor allowed access to legal representationrelating to the lawfulness of their detention. If true, any one of these conditions may violate the Convention AgainstTorture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Because of the gravity of theallegations, PHR, along with a coalition of leading human rights organizations, sent a letter to President Obamaseeking clarity as to:
- whether the US, independently orthrough contractors, is involved in the detention, interrogation, orinterrogation of suspected terrorists at Somalian prisons;
- the measures that the US has takento ensure that it abides by its obligations under US and international law, aswell as Executive Order 13491; and
- whether the International Committeeof the Red Cross has been notified of, and been provided access to, detaineesheld at the Somali prison.
To date, PHR has not received a response fromthe Administration. PHR urges PresidentObama to ensure that counterterrorism operations are being conducted withrespect for human rights and the rule of law.