By Erica Laster                                                                                                                        Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, United States – Newly released Wikileaks documents reinforce human rights activist’s beliefs that Guantanamo Bay detainees receive improper and abusive treatment at the hands of U.S. government officials.  Still more of the documents indicate that many of the detainee cases may be based upon flawed evidence.  The documents’ release only serves to further fuel the controversy over the inadequate system used to hold detainees and the inability of the government to close the prison permanently.

Wikileaks publishes documents detailing detainee interrogations
Wikileaks publishes documents detailing detainee interrogations

The newly released documents span two administrations ranging from 2002-2009.  Jay Carney, White House spokesman, emphasized the fact that readers must realize much of the content is attributable to the Bush Administration.  “A detainee assessment brief in 2006 may or may not be reflective of the administration or the government’s view of that particular detainee in 2011,” Carney stated.

The documents detail the number of inmates that have been transferred out of Guantanamo Bay since inception and the level of threat that each detainee poses to national security upon release.  These are referred to as Detainee Assessment Briefs (DAB’s), the documents indicate that 604 inmates have been released while 172 remain in Guantanamo Bay as inmates.

The Brief’s further contain photographs of the detainees and suspected terrorists and details of more than 700 detainee interrogations.

“These documents are remarkable because they show just how questionable the government’s basis has been for detaining hundreds of people, in some cases indefinitely, at Guantanamo,” stated Hina Shamsi, ACLU’s National Security Project Director.

Shamsi further stated that the assessments provided are not only one-sided, but confirm torture allegations and speculations on the part of detainees and human rights activists fighting to end the process of indefinite detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

The Center for Constitutional Rights issued a statement which indicates their belief that the documents “provide more public detail on the many innocent men at Guantanamo, many of whom remained and remain there long after the government knew they were innocent.”

According to the Washington Post, U.S. officials responded by criticizing news and media outlets decision to publicize the leaked documents considering that they contain “sensitive information.”  The files were released by European and American newspapers. 

Photo courtesy of  For More Information Please Visit:

Washington Post – Guantanamo Bay: Why Obama hasn’t fulfilled his promise to close the facility – 23 April 2011

ABC News – WikiLeaks Guantanamo Files Reveal Faces, Lives of ‘Enemy Combatants’ – 25 April 2011

Washington Post – Guantanamo Documents Revive Debate – 25 April 2011

Washington Post – Leaked Gitmo documents provide fresh information on background of terror suspects – 25 April 2011

GCR2P Open Statement on the Situation in Syria





Open Statement on the Situation in Syria

26 April, 2011

The Syrian government must immediately cease attacks on unarmed civilians protesting peacefully. The government’s response to protests that began in mid-March has become increasingly violent with security forces carrying out a deadly crackdown in response to the 22 April “Great Friday” demonstrations. Hundreds are dead and thousands wounded with many more arbitrarily arrested, tortured and disappeared, acts which may rise to the level of crimes against humanity, one of the four crimes that states committed themselves to protect populations from in adopting the responsibility to protect in 2005. Pursuant to this commitment, the Syrian government bears the primary responsibility to halt and avert the commission of atrocities, an obligation that it is currently failing to fulfill.

The situation is deteriorating and the risk of further atrocities is significant. Over 350 individuals have allegedly been killed since the protests began, at least 120 since Friday alone. The security forces have shown no restraint, using live fire ammunition against unarmed protesters. In the southern city of Deraa they are relying on tanks and other heavy weaponry to respond to demonstrations. Reports have emerged from that city of the shelling of residential neighborhoods and the use of snipers targeting those trying to assist the wounded. Foreign reporters have been banned from entering the country and there are reports that telephone service has been cut in certain cities making it difficult to get information out and leading to fears about what the government plans to do hidden from the attention of the world.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other government officials have argued that the unrest is being instigated by “armed groups.” By characterizing unarmed civilians, including children, the elderly, medical professionals seeking to reach the wounded and those participating in funeral processions, as armed militants the threat of atrocities is dramatically heightened. In addition, recent statements have blamed a “conspiracy” of “Salafists,” adherents to the Salafi sect of Islam, for the protests and resulting violence, which suggests an attempt to stoke sectarian division and to portray the protesters as violent extremists. The government’s history of silencing opposition raises serious concerns that the regime is willing to do whatever is necessary to retain power.

On 21 April President Assad lifted the emergency law – in place since 1963 – that suspended constitutional protections including banning free assembly and granting the state expanded powers to arrest and detain individuals. While this is a positive step the fact that it was immediately replaced with a law requiring government permission for demonstrations calls into question the Assad government’s sincere commitment to reform. Since the lifting of the law protesters, opposition figures and activists continue to be targeted, arrested or disappeared. The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights has referred to the conduct of the government as “paper reforms followed by violent crackdowns on protesters.”

Key figures within Syria, including several members of parliament representing the city of Deraa, have recognized that violence is not an acceptable response to peaceful protests and have resigned in protest against the government’s actions. The government must uphold its responsibility to protect and ensure that security forces stop targeting unarmed civilians and act in accordance with their obligations under international law. There must also be, as Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon demanded on 22 April, “an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings” with those responsible held accountable.

UN member states must speak with one voice in condemning the violence and calling on the Syrian government to halt attacks on civilians. The UN Security Council must, in their 26 April meeting, address the situation and consider the imposition of targeted economic sanctions and travel bans on those individuals known to be inciting, ordering or perpetrating atrocities against civilians. The European Union should similarly enact such sanctions. The UN Human Rights Council, which Syria seeks to join, should hold an emergency session to discuss the situation and issue a strong statement making clear that such violence is unacceptable. Regional actors must add their calls for restraint.

The risks to civilians are clear. It is crucial that, in keeping with the responsibility to protect, UN member states use all available leverage to encourage the Syrian government to end the violent crackdown. Action today will save lives, prevent the situation from spinning out of control, and send a clear message to others contemplating a similar response to peaceful protests.






Chad Votes as Opposition Calls for Boycott

By Laura Hirahara
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

President Deby has been in power for over 20 years; Photo courtesy of the AFP
President Deby has been in power for over 20 years; Photo courtesy of the AFP

N’DJAMENA, Chad– On Monday, Chad held presidential elections amid cries of voter fraud and an organized boycott by several opposition candidates.  Though the results won’t be announced for another week, incumbent president Idriss Deby is almost certain to win after many of the candidates pulled themselves from the race.  Deby faced just two opponents in the election after the withdrawal, a lawyer, Nadji Madou, and a former agriculture minister, Albert Pahimi Padackey, both relatively unknown and not expected to win.

Opposition leaders Abdelkader Wadal Kamougue, Ngarledjy Yorongar and Saleh Kebzabo have stated the elections are fraudulent due to the sale of voter cards.  The cards, left over from a February legislative poll, could be found for sale before the election in the capital city markets.  Since the cards were not designed for Monday’s election they are not official election material and use of them would constitute fraud.  The opposition leaders called upon Deby to print new cards but were ignored.  In calling for the boycott, Kamougue said, “We cannot possibly sanction this masquerade.”  While the reaction of some was split, voter Djibrine Ibet, said “There is no point in voting in an election whose result is known in advance in any case. . .What hope is there when the party in power refuses to print new election cards because they are afraid of losing?”

On Saturday, Kamougue, Yorongar and Kebzabo held a rally with over 1,000 people in attendance.  During the rally, a statement was read that appealed to the voters; “To vote on April 25 is to commit suicide. It is to self-destruct. . .[This is an a]ppeal to the people of Chad not to vote on April 25.”  Some voters told reporters on election day that the fraudulent polls amounted to robbery.  Monday’s election has long been under suspicion after some results from the February legislative vote were invalidated due to ‘irregularities’.  In addition, this most recent election was delayed for three weeks and as voters turned out on Monday, witnesses in the capital of N’Djamena said that polling stations opened late and were lacking voting materials.

Deby has been in control of Chad since 1990 when he took power from Hissene Habre in a military coup.  Since then he has been elected to four terms and resisted multiple coup attempts by rebels.  The rebels entered the capital in 2008 before being forced from the city with the help of French military forces.  Since then, Deby has reached a peace agreement with Sudan and the rebel groups that were located primarily in the Darfur region of Sudan that borders Chad.

Deby has brought changes to Chad, which consistently ranks as one of the world’s poorest countries, but some doubt the change is positive.  In 2003, a 4 billion dollar pipeline was completed which allowed Chad to start producing oil.  The World bank funded this project on the condition that the profits be used to build up impoverished Chadians.  The agreement has since been abandoned after it was found that the government used the money elsewhere.

In response to the boycott, Deby called upon the 4.8 eligible voters in Chad to “fulfill their civic duty” and further stated that the only reason his opponents withdrew was because they knew they had no chance of winning.  Speaking out against the vote, a coalition of rebel groups joined the boycott, calling Deby the “Sultan of Chad”.

For more information, please see;

BBC- Chad Opposition Boycotts Presidential Election25 April, 2011

ReutersChad Leader Poised to Win Vote Boycotted By Rivals25 April, 2011

ICChad President Set for Re-election as Rivals Boycott25 April, 2011

AFPVoting Begins in Chad Presidential Election24 April, 2011

AFPChad Votes as Opposition Boycotts Poll25 April, 2011

VOAChad President Expected to Win  Opposition-Boycotted Election23 April, 2011