Human Rights First Supports Senate Bill on Ending Secret Prisons

NEW YORK – Human Rights First applauds the effort towards ending secret prisons announced yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  According to Senate Intelligence Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, a provision adopted as part of the Senate Intelligence Authorization bill would require that the International Committee of the Red Cross be given access to anyone in the custody of the intelligence community.


“The CIA practice of holding people in secret facilities as ‘ghost prisoners’ has set the stage for torture and other forms of cruelty,” stated Elisa Massimino, Washington Director of Human Rights First.  “Mandating the Red Cross access to prisoners in the custody of the U.S. intelligence community stops short of requiring public disclosure of the locations or conditions of these facilities, but it would provide a necessary measure of prudent outside oversight on a detention program that continues to be shrouded in secrecy and marred by abusive interrogation practices. We applaud the Senate’s effort to require Red Cross access and believe this is a critical step to ensuring humane treatment of all prisoners in U.S. custody.”


According to Senator Rockefeller, the bill also includes important provisions to bar the use of contractors in CIA interrogations and to require CIA interrogators to adhere to the Army Field Manual on interrogations.


Continued transfers of detainees out of CIA secret custody raise pressing concerns about where detainees are held, how they are treated, and whether other prisoners still remain in CIA detention.  On April 27, 2007, the Pentagon announced the transfer of Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi from CIA custody to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, and as recently as March 14, 2008 the Pentagon announced that Muhammad Rahim al Afghani had been similarly transferred.


Since the inception of the program, the CIA reportedly operated detention centers in Afghanistan, the island of Diego-Garcia, Djibouti, Thailand, Jordan, Morocco, Eastern Europe, including Poland and Romania, and Guantánamo Bay. It is unclear where the CIA is currently detaining prisoners.


Published on May 2, 2008


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