Last week Human Rights First published a 47-page entitled "Ending Secret Detentions," which describes what is known, and what is not known, about "a secret system of off-shore prisons beyond the reach of supervision, accountability, or law." The report is well documented: 11 of the 47 pages consist of notes on sources. -- More than two dozen facilities are involved in this prison system, about half of which exist in total secrecy, the U.S. not even acknowledging their existence. -- "Ending Secret Detentions" argues that such a system is utterly incompatible with the core set of beliefs upon which the American system of government was founded, which includes the beliefs that torture and degrading treatment are wrong, that arbitrary detention is an instrument of tyrnany, and that no government power should go unchecked. -- The authors of the report, Michael Posner and Deborah Pearlstein, call for "an official accounting -- to Congress and to the International Committee of the Red Cross -- of the number, nationality, legal status, and place of detention of all those the United States currently holds. We ask that all of these places of detention be acknowledged and open to inspection by the ICRC." After Abu Ghraib, "Trust is plainly no longer enough." -- A summary of the report and a link to the full report (a 400kb .pdf file) follow....

Media Alert

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2004

Contact: Sean Crowley (202) 478-6128, David Danzig (212) 845-5252


** After Abu Ghraib and Bush Administration Memos, ICRC (Red Cross) Must Have Access to All Detainees Held in U.S. Custody **

Human Rights First
June 17, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new report from Human Rights First (the new name of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) outlines the scope of the global network of U.S. detention facilities holding suspects in the "war on terror." The report lists more than two dozen facilities that have been reported by Human Rights First sources and the media; at least half of these operate in total secrecy.

In addition to listing known detention facilities -- including prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Force Base, and Abu Ghraib -- the report, "Ending Secret Detentions," provides an accounting of U.S. military detention facilities reported in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, and aboard U.S. ships at sea (see attached list).

"The abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib cannot be addressed in isolation," said Deborah Pearlstein, the Director of Human Rights First's U.S. Law and Security Program. "The United States government is holding prisoners in a secret system of off-shore prisons beyond the reach of adequate supervision, accountability, or law."

Human Rights First is calling for a comprehensive global response by U.S. authorities to end secret detentions, to investigate abuses, and to put necessary corrective measures in place.

The report, called "Ending Secret Detention," concludes that the secrecy surrounding this network of detention facilities, as it has been constructed and operated by the United States, makes "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely, but inevitable." Human Rights First calls on the Administration to give the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) immediate access to all those it is holding in custody in the "war on terror."

The report outlines what is known about this global detention system and finds that it is, to varying degrees in different locations, failing to meet existing obligations under U.S. and international law.

These obligations include:

--Affording the ICRC unfettered access to all detainees held in the course of armed conflict

--Providing every individual in custody some recognized legal status

--Disclosing the names of all individuals detained to their families and friends

In a chapter called "The Purpose Behind the Law," the report argues that the United States' illegal treatment of detainees puts U.S. forces abroad at greater risk of the same kinds of torture and ill treatment. It also describes how these illegal practices seriously undermine the United States' ability to forge alliances throughout the international community -- a goal essential to defeating terrorism over the long term. "The United States' practices in its global network of detention facilities also has a deeply negative effect on the U.S. ability to combat the threat of terrorism," the report finds, "which depends critically on a visible demonstration that U.S. deeds match its words in supporting democracy and human rights."

To come into compliance with the law and to prevent future abuse, Human Rights First calls on the Administration to take a series of steps, including:

(1) Granting the ICRC unrestricted access to all U.S.-controlled detention facilities around the world.

(2) Disclosing to Congress and the ICRC the location of all U.S.-controlled detention facilities worldwide, and providing a regular accounting of the number and nationality of all held.

(3) Ordering a thorough, comprehensive, and independent investigation of all U.S.-controlled detention facilities, and submitting the findings of the investigation to Congress.

(4) Taking all necessary steps to inform the immediate families of those detained of their relatives’ capture, location, legal status, and condition of health.


From "Ending Secret Detention" by Human Rights First -- Full Report (400kb .pdf file)



--Collection Center at the U.S. Air Force Base in Bagram.
--Detention facility in Kandahar (an “intermediate” site, where detainees await transport to Bagram).
--Approximately 20 “outlying transient sites” (used to hold detainees until they may be evacuated either to Kandahar or Bagram).


Detention facilities in:
--CIA interrogation facility at Bagram
--CIA interrogation facility in Kabul (known as “the Pit”)

*These sites may be part of the approximately 20 “outlying transient sites.”



--U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay



--Abu Ghraib (near Baghdad)
--Camp Cropper (near the Baghdad Airport)
--Camp Bucca (near Basra)
--Nine facilities under division or brigade command
----Facilities run by military divisions:
------1st Infantry Division DIF (Tikrit)
------1st Marine Expeditionary Force DIF (Al Fallujah)
------1st Cavalry Division DIF (Baghdad)
------1st Armored Division DIF (Baghdad)
------Multi-National Division-South East (Az Zubayr)
----Facilities run by military brigades:
------Dayyarah West (Multi-National Brigade - North)
------Tal Afar (Multi-National Brigade - North)
------Al Hillah (Multi-National Division - Center South)
------Wasit (Multi-National Division - Center South)

In addition, there are a number of “brigade holding areas in division sectors” where detainees may be held up to 72 hours before transfer to Division facilities.

Ashraf Camp. Ashraf Camp is a detention facility for Mujahideen-E-Khalq (MEK), an Iraqi based organization seeking to overthrow the government in Iran. Ashraf Camp was disclosed as a detention site for MEK detainees in February 2004, but as of June 11, 2004, the Coalition Press Information Center (CPIC) refused to discuss the status or location of the MEK detainees.



--Kohat (near the border of Afghanistan) Alizai



--United States and United Kingdom officials deny repeated news reports indicating that at least some individuals are being detained on the British possession of Diego Garcia, including, at one time, the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah, Hambali (Riduan Isamuddin).



--Al Jafr Prison (CIA interrogation facility)



--Naval Consolidated Brig (Charleston, South Carolina). This facility is where the U.S. Government is detaining at least three individuals as “enemy combatants”: two U.S. citizens, Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, as well as a Qatari national residing in the United States, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri.


--U.S. Naval Ships: USS Bataan and USS Peleliu.

--"Ending Secret Detentions" is part of Human Rights First’s "End Abuse" campaign. Information about the "End Abuse" Campaign can be found at Human Rights First (the new name of Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) works in the United States and abroad to create a secure and humane world by advancing justice, human dignity and respect for the rule of law. In 2003, we published two in-depth and well-received reports on the erosion of civil liberties and human rights in the U.S. since September 11. "Imbalance of Powers" and "Assessing the New Normal" are widely cited, and relied on by journalists, policy-makers and advocates. The reports have shaped the public debate and agenda on how to enhance security and protect rights post 9/11. Last year, our legal representation program won 103 asylum cases for men and women fleeing rape, torture and political and religious persecution in their home countries.