Letter From Amnesty International To Robert Gates SecDef

 

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT

Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)20 7413 5500 F: +44 (0)20 7956 1157

E: amnestyis@amnesty.org W: www.amnesty.org

 

BY FAX AND MAIL

Ref: AMR 51/2011/004

AI index: AMR 51/006/2011

The Honorable Robert M. Gates

Secretary of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington DC 20301

USA

19 January 2011

Dear Secretary of Defense

I am writing to express concern about the conditions under which Private First Class (PFC) Bradley

Manning is detained at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

We are informed that, since July 2010, PFC Manning has been confined for 23 hours a day to a single

cell, measuring around 72 square feet (6.7 square metres) and equipped only with a bed, toilet and

sink. There is no window to the outside, the only view being on to a corridor through the barred doors

of his cell. All meals are taken in his cell, which we are told has no chair or table. He has no

association or contact with other pre-trial detainees and he is allowed to exercise, alone, for just one

hour a day, in a day-room or outside. He has access to a television which is placed in the corridor for

limited periods of the day. However, he is reportedly not permitted to keep personal possessions in his

cell, apart from one book and magazine at a time. Although he may write and receive correspondence,

writing is allowed only at an allotted time during the day and he is not allowed to keep such materials

in his cell.

We understand that PFC Manning’s restrictive conditions of confinement are due to his classification as

a maximum custody detainee. This classification also means that – unlike medium security detainees

– he is shackled at the hands and legs during approved social and family visits, despite all such visits

at the facility being non-contact. He is also shackled during attorney visits at the facility. We further

understand that PFC Manning, as a maximum custody detainee, is denied the opportunity for a work

assignment which would allow him to be out of his cell for most of the day. The United Nations (UN)

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), which are internationally recognized

guiding principles, provide inter alia that “Untried prisoners shall always be offered opportunity to

work” should they wish to undertake such activity (SMR Section C, rule 89).

PFC Manning is also being held under a Prevention of Injury (POI) assignment, which means that he is

subjected to further restrictions. These include checks by guards every five minutes and a bar on his

sleeping during the day. He is required to remain visible at all times, including during night checks.

His POI status has resulted in his being deprived of sheets and a separate pillow, causing

uncomfortable sleeping conditions; his discomfort is reportedly exacerbated by the fact that he is

required to sleep only in boxer shorts and has suffered chafing of his bare skin from the blankets.

We are concerned that no formal reasons have been provided to PFC Manning for either his maximum

security classification or the POI assignment and that efforts by his counsel to challenge these

assignments through administrative procedures have thus far failed to elicit a response. We are further

concerned that he reportedly remains under POI despite a recommendation by the military psychiatrist

overseeing his treatment that such an assignment is no longer necessary.

Amnesty International recognizes that it may sometimes be necessary to segregate prisoners for

disciplinary or security purposes. However, the restrictions imposed in PFC Manning’s case appear to

be unnecessarily harsh and punitive, in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary

infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offence.

The conditions under which PFC Manning is held appear to breach the USA’s obligations under

international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights (ICCPR) which the USA ratified in 1992 and which states that “all persons deprived of

their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human

person”. The UN Human Rights Committee, the ICCPR monitoring body, has noted in its General

Comment on Article 10 that persons deprived of their liberty may not be “subjected to any hardship or

constraint other than that resulting from the deprivation of liberty; respect for the dignity of such

persons must be guaranteed under the same conditions as for that of free persons …”.

The harsh conditions imposed on PFC Manning also undermine the principle of the presumption of

innocence, which should be taken into account in the treatment of any person under arrest or awaiting

trial. We are concerned that the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement – which

evidence suggests can cause psychological impairment, including depression, anxiety and loss of

concentration – may, further, undermine his ability to assist in his defence and thus his right to a fair

trial.

In view of the concerns raised, we urge you to review the conditions under which PFC Manning is

confined at the Quantico naval brig and take effective measures to ensure that he is no longer held in

23 hour cellular confinement or subjected to other undue restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Lee

Program Director

Americas Regional Program

Cc COL Carl R. Coffman Jr., Commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Myer, VA

COL Daniel J. Choike, Base Commander, MCB, Quantico

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