If you’ve ever wondered who the unluckiest person in the world is, I think I’ve found him. His name is Abdul Rahim. In January 2000, he was arrested in Afghanistan by the Taliban. They tortured him. They burned him with cigarettes, smashed his hand, deprived him of sleep, submitted him to water torture, and hanged him from the ceiling. Eventually he “confessed” to being a spy for the United States.
The 9/11 Commission recommended setting up an organization to help safeguard civil liberties. Sure enough the Bush administration has gone ahead and created a President’s Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties. Ignoring for the moment the issue that civil liberties should, constitutionally, be protected for everyone and not just US citizens, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the people who are being put in charge of safeguarding your freedoms.
This month’s edition of The Lancet features an extensively footnoted article by Dr Stephen Miles which describes some of the issues of medical ethics in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. A few lowlights: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that the medical system failed to maintain internment cards with medical information necessary to protect the detainees’ health as required by the Geneva Convention; this reportedly was due to a policy of not officially processing (ie, recording their presence in the prison) new detainees.
People who have already been given a fair trial in court and found innocent, are being held in Guatanamo Bay: The Observer has obtained details of two incidents in which men have been detained by the US despite being found innocent by courts in their own country. In one, a British businessman called Wahab al-Rami, an Iraqi living in the UK and a Palestinian seeking asylum were arrested by US and local officers in Gambia in November 2002 as they stepped off a flight from London.