Wednesday, July 27, 2005

U.S.: Religious Humiliation of Muslim Detainees Widespread

(New York, May 19, 2005)—U.S. interrogators have repeatedly sought to offend the religious beliefs of Muslim detainees as part of their interrogation strategy, Human Rights Watch said today.

If the U.S. government wants to repair the public relations damage caused by its mistreatment of detainees, it needs to investigate those who ordered or condoned this abuse, not attack those who have reported on it.
Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said that the dispute over the retracted allegations in Newsweek that U.S. interrogators had desecrated a Koran at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has overshadowed the fact that religious humiliation of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere has been widespread.

“In detention centers around the world, the United States has been humiliating Muslim prisoners by offending their religious beliefs,” said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch.

On December 2, 2002, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld authorized a list of techniques for interrogation of prisoners at Guantánamo, which included “removal of all comfort items (including religious items),” “forced grooming (shaving of facial hair, etc.),” and “removal of clothing.” Each of these practices is considered offensive to many Muslims. These techniques were later applied in Afghanistan and Iraq as well.

The purpose of these techniques, Human Rights Watch said, is to inflict humiliation on detainees, which is strictly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

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