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February 2007


The conditions of detention under which the fourteen were held, particularly during the earlier period of their detention, formed an integral part of the interrogation process as well as an integral part of the overall treatment to which they were subjected as part of the CIA detention program. This report has already drawn attention to certain aspects associated with basic conditions of detention, which were clearly manipulated in order to exert pressure on the detainees concerned. In particular, the use of continuous solitary confinement and incommunicado detention, lack of contact with family members and third parties, prolonged nudity, deprivation/restricted provision of solid food and prolonged shackling have already been described above.

The situation was further exacerbated by the following aspects of the detention regime:

    • Deprivation of access to the open air

    • Deprivation of exercise

    • Deprivation of appropriate hygiene facilities and basic items in pursuance of interrogation

    • Restricted access to the Koran linked with interrogation

These aspects cannot be considered individually, but must be understood as forming part of the whole picture. As such, they also form part of the ill-treatment to which the fourteen were subjected.

Little or no access to open air was granted to the fourteen throughout their detention period. For most, their arrival in Guantanamo was the first time they had been allowed outdoors at all since their arrest (apart from during transfer from one place of detention to another). Two detainees said they were taken outdoors twice during their periods of detention in Afghanistan and only four detainees claimed that they received a regular outdoor period during any part of their detention. These four believed that they were previously detained in Guantanamo for periods ranging from one week to one year during 2003/4. During this time they were allowed to go outdoors on a daily basis. Apart from these few exceptions, none of the fourteen received any access to open air throughout their period in the CIA detention program.

Access to exercise was also severely limited, particularly during the early months and years of detention for the detainees arrested during 2002 and 2003. According to many of the detainees it was after several months or years of detention that the authorities constructed or provided such facilities. For example, Mr Bin Attash was kept for approximately two and a half years without any possibility to exercise outside his cell apart from a one month period in his fifth place of detention which was equipped with a gym/exercise area. Mr Hambali was allegedly detained for nine months before he was provided with any possibility to exercise outside of his cell. Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed was allegedly held for nineteen months before he was provided with access to a small gym located outside his cell in his fifth place of detention.

Basic materials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, towels, toilet paper, clothes, underwear, blankets and mattress were not provided at all during the initial detention period, in some instances lasting several months. The timing of initial provision and continued supply of all these items was allegedly linked with compliance and cooperation on the part of the detainee. Even after being provided, these basic items allegedly were sometimes removed in order to apply pressure for purposes of interrogation.

In the early phase of interrogation, from a few days to several weeks, access to shower was totally denied and toilet, as mentioned above, was either provided in the form of a bucket or not provided at all—in which case those detainees shackled in the prolonged stress standing position had to urinate and defecate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids for periods of several days (see Section 1.3.2. Prolonged Stress Standing).

During the initial stages of detention, particularly during the most intense interrogation phase, the fourteen were not provided with access to the Koran. The cultural and religious significance of this lack of access added significant psychological pressure to the detainees. Later, usually about two months after arrest, Korans were provided and the direction of Mecca was indicated. Detainees alleged, however, that throughout their detention period the timing of the prayer schedule was inaccurate. Several detainees alleged that on occasion their Korans, along with other items, were removed according to the needs of the interrogation. For example, Mr Bin Attash was provided with a Koran in his third place of detention, approximately two months after arrest. He was able to keep the Koran for one month. It was then removed as the interrogation again became harsher and was finally returned to him one month later. Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that he was not allowed to pray until approximately one month after his arrest. He was provided with a Koran in April 2003, approximately six weeks after arrest. It was confiscated on four occasions during his stay in his third place detention. Mr Hambali was provided with a Koran about four days after his arrival in his third place of detention, approximately two months after arrest. He stated that: “A few days later the air conditioning was made very cold and everything was removed from my cell, including the Koran. I was only left with a T-shirt and shorts”.

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