With less than a week left in his term, former President Barack Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence on 17 January. While this welcome move was long overdue, the US government must now investigate the potential human rights violations that she exposed.
On 17 January, former President Barack Obama commuted all but four months of Chelsea Manning’s remaining prison sentence during his last days in office. She will now be released from prison on 17 May 2017 rather than in 2045.
In 2013 Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison after releasing information that pointed to potential human rights violations and crimes under international law by US forces. She was not able to present evidence that she had been acting in the public interest along with other due process issues at trial, and she was held in pre-trial detention conditions for 11 months that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture described as cruel and inhuman. Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in July 2016, for which she was sentenced to 14 days in solitary confinement. Additionally, after beginning her gender transition following her sentencing, Chelsea Manning has been denied critical and appropriate treatment related to her gender identity at various points during her incarceration.
Amnesty International has campaigned for Chelsea Manning’s release since 2013. Speaking to the organization after the commutation of Chelsea’s sentence, her attorney Nancy Hollander said:
“Amnesty people have been right there for Chelsea from the beginning – sending thousands of letters and holding demonstrations across the country and around the world for her. Thank you for all of your love and support.”
The organization will continue to call on the US government to urgently investigate the potential human rights violations that she exposed, and strengthen protections for whistleblowers who reveal information that the public has the right to know.
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