Another week, another report of serious human rights violations by US forces. This time, it's Afghanistan, where the UN's independent expert, Cherif Bassiouni, has accused the US of
forced entry into homes, arrest and detention of nationals and foreigners without legal authority or judicial review, sometimes for extended periods of time, forced nudity, hooding and sensory deprivation, sleep and food deprivation, forced squatting and standing for long periods of time in stress positions, sexual abuse, beatings, torture, and use of force resulting in death
He also noted that
- Prisoners are held in substandard conditions which violate minimum standards agreed to by the US;
- UN human rights officials and the Red Cross are denied access to prisons and prisoners outside the two main US facilities at Bagram and Khandahar;
- Prisoners are transferred out of the country, either to Guantanamo, or to third countries for the purpose of torture;
- Eight prisoners have died in suspicious circumstances in US custody in Afghanistan. Some of these deaths have been ruled to be homicides.
- One (classified) investigation recommended that 28 personnel be prosecuted in connection with some of the above deaths. Despite this, "prosecutions have been limited".
The overall picture is of a force which engages in gross human rights abuses and operates "above and beyond the reach of the law".
The US's response to this criticism has been overwhelming and immediate. Bassiouni has been removed from his position following US pressure, and his replacement will no longer investigate the activities of US forces. Human rights standards are something to be applied to other countries, not to the almighty US.
(Bassiouni's full report can be found here)