USA: Still failing human rights in the name of global

January 20, 2010

USA: Still failing human rights in the name of global

indefinite detention of musa’ab al madhwani upheld. no remedy, no accountability

The kinds of human rights violations to which countless detainees taken into US custody in what the USA had been calling the “war on terror” are by now familiar: prolonged incommunicado detention, secret transfer, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, indefinite detention without charge. However familiar they may be, however, their stories must continue to be told, at least until the USA meets its international obligations, including in respect to accountability and remedy for the violations to which detainees have been subjected.


Musa’ab Omar Al Madhwani, then 22 years old, was arrested in an apartment in Karachi on 11 September 2002 by Pakistani authorities. He says that he did not resist arrest, and that he was told that after he was taken into custody there was a gun battle between Pakistani forces and occupants of another flat in the building.


In a declaration signed in 2008, Al Madhwani said that in Pakistani custody (translated from Arabic):


“They tied me up, beat and threatened me, and hit me in the head with the butt of a rifle. They told me that if I did not admit to seeing weapons in the apartment, then I would be held responsible for the deaths that occurred in the firefight. The Pakistanis also threatened not to turn me over to Yemen or the United States, but rather to hold me secretly for the rest of my life or to kill me and cut my body into pieces.”


At some point, he was blindfolded, hooded and interrogated by “an American with an Arabic interpreter”. After about five days in Pakistan custody, Musa’ab Al Madhwani was handed over to US forces and flown to Afghanistan. He says he was taken to the “Dark Prison”, a secret US-operated facility in or near Kabul, where he was held for about a month. In his declaration, he continues:


“The cell remained in total darkness during that time. Raucous music blared continuously, except that screams of other prisoners could be heard when the tapes were changed. I was beaten, kicked, sprayed with cold water, deprived of food and sleep, and subjected to extreme cold, stress positions, and other forms of torture. I was partially suspended by the left hand for the entire time at the prison, so that I could not sit and was forced to rest all my weight on one leg. This resulted in permanent nerve damage to my leg… The Americans sprayed me with cold water and dumped water on my head until I got seizures and collapsed. The pain was so extreme that I would pass out repeatedly. Then I was freezing and sweating at the same time. An Arabic-speaking interrogator told me that I was in a place the bull flies cannot find. He said no one could find me in that place, not even the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC]…


After a while I admitted to whatever the interrogators accused me of, just to stop the torture and abuse”.


He was then transferred to the US air base at Bagram where he was held for another five days. There he has alleged that: