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(Washington, DC) — Adotei Akwei, managing director for government relations for Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement in response to news reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been involved in operating a secret prison in Somalia for terrorism suspects:
"Here we go again. The CIA's involvement would be yet another instance of the tragic disconnect between the Obama administration's lofty rhetoric in support of human rights and the shocking reality that the U.S. government continues to be involved in abuses, from Guantanamo to Bagram and beyond.
"President Obama needs to clarify if the CIA is involved in operating a detention facility in Somalia and who in the administration knows about the existence of this, and possibly, other secret sites. He also needs to ensure that any detainees are either charged with crimes and brought to trial in accordance with U.S. and international standards, or released.
"If a secret prison for detainees still exists after President Obama's executive order on Ensuring Lawful Interrogations was issued in 2009, then the administration may have broken its own law. The order specifically states, ‘The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.'
"For almost a decade now, Amnesty International has been calling on the U.S. authorities to cease transfers designed to circumvent established legal procedures. President Obama should disclose the identities and whereabouts of all persons held at secret sites and their legal status, and ensure that all detainees are held only in officially recognized places of detention with access to independent monitors, family, lawyers and courts.
"Today's news only adds more weight to the call that a bi-partisan commission of inquiry must be set up immediately so that Americans and others around the globe have the full truth about the United States' detention and interrogation practices that have and may continue to be carried out."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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