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Context of 'March 8, 2004: Human Rights Watch Issues Report on Human Rights Violations in Afghanistan'

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Human Rights Watch writes to President Bush about allegations of renditions and torture reported in the Washington Post (see March 11, 2002), asking that the allegations be investigated immediately. (Chandrasekaran and Finn 3/11/2002, pp. A01; Human Rights Watch 5/7/2004) No known investigation takes place.

Human Rights Watch sends a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressing concern about the treatment of detainees in Iraq. The organization asks that the administration make information on the detainees publicly available. (Human Rights Watch 5/7/2004)

Human Rights Watch publishes a report on the human rights violations being committed by US forces in Afghanistan. The report, “Enduring Freedom: Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan,” is based on research conducted by the organization in southeastern and eastern Afghanistan from 2003 to early 2004. It “details numerous abuses by US personnel, including cases of excessive force during arrests; arbitrary and indefinite detention; and mistreatment of detainees” depicting a system that “operates almost entirely outside of the rule of law.” For example, the report finds that prisoners in the custody of US Forces are “continuously shackled, intentionally kept awake for extended periods of time,… forced to kneel or stand in painful positions for extended periods,” kicked and beaten, and drenched with freezing water in the winter. (Human Rights Watch 3/8/2004; Human Rights Watch 5/7/2004)

In response to what the five Britons released from Guantanamo (see March 9, 2004) have claimed about the abuses they suffered during their stay at the US detention camp, John Sifton from Human Rights Watch says, “It is now clear that there is a systemic problem of abuse throughout the US military’s detention facilities—not merely misbehavior by a few bad apples.” (Rose 5/16/2004)


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