In its most extensive study of secret detention practices to date, the UN released a 222-page report on the practice of secret detention in dozens of countries. The report was to be presented to the Human Rights Council in March but the Council has agreed to postpone the discussion until June. The detailed study conducted by four independent UN human rights experts accuses the Bush administration of utilizing practices in severe violation of international law.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. began to limit and remove mechanisms protecting human rights in the context of the Global War on Terror. Lumping the United States with the likes of Stalin and Pinochet, the study cites the U.S. practices as an “unprecedented departure” from established international humanitarian and human rights law, specifically pointing to the Geneva Convention.
The report focuses on the CIA run secret detention facilities and the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on high value detainees. While the U.S. has generally refused to disclose the locations of these facilities, the specifics have slowly leaked out. The study found evidence confirming CIA “black sites” in 20 locations around the world, including Thailand, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Kosovo.
During the operation of these sites, the U.S. used secret flight plans, charter aircraft and subcontracting agreements to remove evidence of U.S. government involvement. Individual case reports have begun to fill in the missing details of the locations and use of enhanced interrogation techniques at these secret detention sites. Amnesty International has created a visual representation of the UN study mapping the locations of the reported secret detention sites.
Shahna Esber contributed to this blog.