CIA secret prisons in Pakistan?


NEW DELHI: In a report on human rights violations committed during the ‘war on terror’’ in Pakistan, Amnesty International, the international human rights body, has criticised the Pakistani government for human rights violations in its bid to assist the US. It has also asked the Bush administration to stop secret detentions.

Amnesty International, while criticising the US role in alleged secret detention, torture, and interrogation of terror suspects, puts the responsibility of human rights violations solely on the Pakistani government. Saying that Pakistan has a duty to prevent and punish terror acts, Amnesty, in its report, ‘Pakistan: Human Rights ignored in the War on Terror’ says that measures taken to combat terrorism must respect national and international human rights laws.

It points out that secret detention, enforced disappearance, torture and unlawful transfers to other countries are prohibited under international and national laws. “Amnesty International is gravely concerned about reports that US intelligence agents have detained and interrogated terror suspects in secret places of detention in Pakistan,’’ the report says.

However, the report holds the Pakistan government responsible. “While recognising that some of the human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the war on terror may have been carried out at the behest of US officials, as a sovereign state, Pakistan bears full responsibility for all human rights violations committed on its territory and with its knowledge and consent,’’ the report says.

Amnesty says that the victims of human rights violations in the war on terror include Pakistani and non -Pakistani terror suspects, men, women, children and journalists who reported on the war on terror and medical personnel who treated terror suspects. The group further says that hundreds of people have been arbitrarily held, many of them held “secretly, incommunicado” and at undisclosed locations. The report cites a number of examples including that of Moazzam Begg, a British national who was “abducted’’ from his home in Islamabad in January 2002 and transferred to US detention in Kandahar and later released in January 2005 in the UK without being charged with a crime.

On unlawful transfers to the US, the report quotes Pakistani officials as saying that 700 terror suspects have been arrested and handed over to the US. But the report says, many were not formally handed over after completion of legal process, but were sold into US custody by local police and border officials. “Pakistani authorities have not only failed to take measures to stop such transfers in return for money but have also denied that they have taken place,’’ the report says. It says that information is scarce about all the arrests made in the War on Terror but that even less is known about arrests in the designated tribal areas.

The human rights body has asked the Pakistani government to end ``incommunicado detention’’ and ensure all detainees have access to a lawyer, family members and medical care, establish and maintain a central register of detainees, stop unlawful transfers to other countries, and provide repatriation for all victims of human rights violations among many other recommendations. It also asks the US government to stop secret detentions and comply with international safeguards that protect detainees from arbitrary arrests.