ICRC REPORT ON THE TREATMENT OF FOURTEEN "HIGH VALUE DETAINEES" IN CIA CUSTODY
1. Main Elements of the CIA Detention Program
2. Conditions of Detention In Later Stages
3. Health Provision and Role of Medical Staff
4. Legal Aspects Related to Undisclosed Detention
5. Fate of Other Persons who Passed Through the CIA Detention Program
6. Future use of the CIA Detention Program
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has consistently expressed its grave concern over the humanitarian consequences and legal implications of the practice by the United States (US) authorities of holding persons in undisclosed detention in the context of the fight against terrorism1. In particular, the ICRC has underscored the risk of ill-treatment, the lack of contact with the outside world as a result of being held incommunicado, the lack of a legal framework, and the direct effects of such treatment and conditions on the persons held in undisclosed detention and on their families.
The ICRC made its first written interventions to the US authorities in 2002, requesting information on the whereabouts of persons allegedly held under US authority in the context of the fight against terrorism. Since then, it has made regular written and oral interventions to the US authorities on the issue of undisclosed detention (see Annex 2). In particular, the ICRC transmitted two reports on undisclosed detention on 18 November 2004 and 18 April 2006 respectively which consolidated the information previously transmitted2 and included more recent allegations of undisclosed locations, hidden detainees and third country detention. Both reports annexed a non-exhaustive nominal list of persons allegedly held in undisclosed detention by the US authorities3.
Despite repeated requests at various levels of the US Government (USG), the ICRC has not received a response to most of these written interventions. The main written response by the US authorities is the Note Verbale of 8 June 2005 which responds to three earlier written interventions4. The US authorities have never responded to the two ICRC consolidated reports.
On 6 September 2006, President Bush publicly announced that fourteen “high value” detainees had been transferred from the High Value Detainee Program run by the Central Intelligence Agency (hereafter CIA detention program) to the custody of the Department of Defense in Guantanamo Bay Internment Facility (hereafter Guantanamo). The fourteen detainees (hereafter the fourteen) were reportedly held in the CIA detention program from the time of their arrest, or shortly thereafter, until their arrival in Guantanamo5. Throughout their time in CIA custody—which ranges from 16 months to almost four and a half years—these persons were held in undisclosed detention.
Prior to this public announcement, the ICRC had never been informed by the US authorities of the existence of the CIA detention program, nor of the presence in US custody of the fourteen. This is despite the fact that thirteen of the fourteen had been included in the abovementioned ICRC written requests to the US authorities concerning undisclosed detention, the first of which were made in January 20036. The remaining detainee was not known to the ICRC.
The ICRC was granted access to the fourteen in Guantanamo, and met with each of them in private for the first time from 6 to 11 October 2006.
The ICRC regards the confirmation of the present whereabouts of the fourteen by the US authorities, and the subsequent access granted to the ICRC, as positive steps. However, it deplores the fact that these persons were held in undisclosed detention during a prolonged period by the US authorities and the conditions of detention and treatment to which they were subjected during that time. It is also gravely concerned by the lack of information provided to the ICRC regarding their fate despite regular and repeated requests.
The ICRC recognizes the right of the US authorities to take measures to address legitimate security concerns, including the detention and interrogation of individuals suspected of posing a threat to national security. However, the ICRC believes that the US can achieve these objectives while respecting its obligations and historical commitment to respect international law.
The aim of the present report is to provide a description of the treatment and material conditions of detention of the fourteen during the period they were held in the CIA detention program, as reported to the ICRC during its private interviews with these persons. Section One reports in detail the main elements of the CIA detention program, including arrest and transfers, incommunicado detention and other conditions and treatment, in particular during the initial stages of interrogation; Section Two outlines the conditions of detention and treatment in the later stages; Section Three considers the provision of health care and the role of medical staff during the entire period of undisclosed detention; Section Four details the legal aspects related to undisclosed detention; Section Five discusses the issue of the persons other than the fourteen who passed through the CIA detention program; and, finally, Section Six addresses the issue of future use of the CIA detention program.
A separate ICRC report has been transmitted to the Department of Defense regarding the material conditions and treatment of the fourteen since their arrival in Guantanamo7.
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