Children as young as seven years old were ‘forcibly disappeared’ by the CIA, according to report published today jointly by six human rights groups naming 39 people who are believed to have been held in secret US custody and whose current whereabouts remain unknown.
The list-drafted by Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Reprieve-draws together information from government and media sources, as well as from interviews with former prisoners and other witnesses.
The 21-page briefing paper, Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the “War on Terror,” includes detailed information about four people named as “disappeared” prisoners for the first time. The full list of people includes nationals from countries including Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, and Spain. They are believed to have been arrested in countries including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sudan, and transferred to secret US detention centers.
The report details aspects of the CIA detention program that the US government has actively tried to conceal, such as the locations where prisoners may have been held, the mistreatment they endured, and the countries to which they may have been transferred.
It reveals how suspects’ relatives, including wives and children as young as seven, have been held in secret detention. In September 2002, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s two young sons, aged seven and nine, were arrested. According to eyewitnesses, the two were held in an adult detention center for at least four months while U.S. agents questioned the children about their father’s whereabouts.
Similarly, when Tanzanian national Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was seized in Gujarat, Pakistan, in July 2004, his Uzbek wife was detained with him.
On September 6, 2006, President George W. Bush revealed that the United States runs a system of secret detention in the “War on Terror,” but he did not disclose how many individuals were secretly detained.
According to the rights groups, enforced disappearances involve violations of treaties binding on the United States, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading reatment or Punishment. They also violate international humanitarian law.
The human rights groups are calling on the Bush administration to put a permanent end to the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program, and to disclose the identities, fate, and whereabouts of all detainees currently or previously held at secret facilities operated or overseen by the US government as part of the “War on Terror.”