UN: U.S. Military’s Treatment of Bradley Manning Cruel and Inhumane
The U.S. government has been formally accused for cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning by the UN special rapporteur on torture, U.K. newspaper the Guardian reported.
Manning, 24, is an openly gay U.S. soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of providing WikiLeaks with restricted and classified material.
Juan Mendez, who runs the UN office that investigates alleged torture around the world, put together a 14-month investigation of how the U.S. military treated Manning since he was first arrested. He found that the military held Manning in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period. Mendez's report claims that the conditions Manning endured can be classified as cruel and inhuman treatment.
"The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence," Mendez writes.
"I conclude that the 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement (regardless of the name given to his regime by the prison authorities) constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture," Mendez told the Guardian. "If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture."
For nearly three months Manning was held at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and then sent to the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., in Dec. 2010. The solider was there for another eight months where he was locked up alone for 23 hours a day and forced to strip naked at night. Mendez noted in his opening letter to the U.S. government in Dec. 2010, that he military put Manning in solitary confinement because it was "an effort to coerce him into 'cooperation' with the authorities, allegedly for the purpose of persuading him to implicate others."
"Though Private Manning was classified as a maximum custody detainee at Quantico, he occupied the very same type of single-occupancy cell that all other pretrial detainees occupied," a May 2011, letter from the Pentagon's legal counsel read.
"Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions," Mendez said in his final conclusions. He added that, "[d]epending on the specific reason for its application, conditions, length, effects and other circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to a breach of article seven of the international covenant on civil and political rights, and to an act defined in article one or article 16 of the convention against torture."
Mendez also pointed out that the U.S. government tried to justify Manning's solitary confinement by calling it "prevention of harm watch" but the military never explained what threat was being prevented.
He told the Guardian that he could not conclude if the solider had been tortured because he was refused permission by the U.S. military to interview Manning even though it would have been under acceptable circumstances.
On April 20, 2011, Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where he was held in open conditions. Manning is now in a facility in Virginia.