United States Has Floating Prisons, Alleges Human Rights Group

The U.S. is housing prisoners of the “war on terror” on “floating prisons,” according to human rights lawyers. This allegation puts a further dent in the relationship between the UK and the U.S.

They claim that the U.S. is still attempting to conceal the number and whereabouts of those they have detained even after George Bush has stated that practice has stopped.

As the debate on both sides of the Atlantic intensifies over secret detention centres it has been revealed that the U.S. is up to their old tricks by hiding away detainees on board prison ships according to the human rights group Reprieve.

Sources have confirmed details about these floating vessels that house detainees. Some of the sources include US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners. Yesterday the U.S. government was urged to list all of those that they have in detention.

According to Reprieve there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006. That is after George Bush announced that the practice of detaining prisoners secretly had been stopped.

The group contends that the U.S. has used up to 17 ships as floating prisons since 2001. It is being alleged that the detainees are interrogated on board of these ships and then sent elsewhere to undisclosed locations.

Both the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu have been reported to have been used in this practice. Another 15 ships operating around Diego Garcia, a British territory have also been used according to reports.

It is believed that these ships are being used routinely by the CIA and FBI for interrogations. More than 100 people have “disappeared: to secret prison locations in areas such as Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve’s study includes one account of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who at one time was held aboard one of the ships in question.

“One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo … he was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship. The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo.”

Clive Stafford Smith is the legal director of Reprieve. He claims that the ships are used as to keep the media at bay about the misconduct of these detentions.

“By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been ‘through the system’ since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them.”

The British government is interested in this information because it is being alleged that their military spaces were used in some of the detentions.

The Liberal Democrat’s foreign affairs spokesman, Edward Davey, said: “If the Bush administration is using British territories to aid and abet illegal state abduction, it would amount to a huge breach of trust with the British government. Ministers must make absolutely clear that they would not support such illegal activity, either directly or indirectly.”

According to Commander Jeffrey Gordon, a US navy spokesman, there are no detention centres on naval ships. He did admit though some prisoners have been on board for a “few” days at the beginning of their detentions.

source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/255521/United_States_Has_Floating_Prisons_Alleges_Human_Rights_Group

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