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Trump’s declarations that “torture works” just reflects US policy to date

London – US President Donald Trump’s declaration that “torture works” is a complete denial of the truth and is a dangerous facilitator of further human rights abuses in the name of the War on Terror, and further violence.

Even CIA officials stated in the Senate Report on Torture, released in redacted form in 2014, that torture either produced no intelligence, or [victims] “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence”.

The illegal torture and rendition of prisoners has never ceased, however. A case in point is that of Mahdi Hashi, who was deprived of his UK citizenship then ‘rendered’ to the US from Djibouti and placed under Special Administrative Measures, before being sentenced last year to nine years. This, after experiencing conditions described as torture by the UN. Prosecutors said they had no evidence Hashi engaged in violence.

Because Obama did not bring torturers to account, the US government and security services are filled with people who are willing to violate international law with impunity. No doubt individuals within government intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and others, will react with enthusiasm to his statements, while their actions will continue to fuel further violence.

Moazzam Begg, CAGE Outreach Director, said:

“President Trump would do well to remember the case of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. Al-Libi’s torture and subsequent false confession which lead directly to the US justification for the invasion of Iraq and its disintegration as a sovereign state. The emergence of al-Qaeda in Iraq and its incremental transition into Islamic State is a consequence even Obama has admitted.”

“IS members dressed their captives in orange suits and allegedly waterboarded them. Where did they learn that from? Waterboarding is torture and torture is a crime, no matter who carries it out. The outrage should be that no one’s been prosecuted for it.”

“The publicising of torture combined with the lack of accountability for it, leads to a fear-based society where Muslims and others who speak against the system are pacified, and even cajoled into towing the line in the ‘War on Terror’. Trump is only adding fuel to fire.”

Ibrahim Mohamoud
Communications Officer
press@cageuk.org


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Thulsie twins face torture if they are extradited to the United States: CAGE Africa

Johannesburg – South Africa must resist any attempts to extradite Sallahuddin (Tony-Lee) and Yakin (Brandon-Lee) Thulsie to the United States for trial.

The possibility of extradition where the US is involved, mentioned by state prosecutor Chris MacAdam, would be a subversion of South Africa’s judicial process. Not only this, but the twins will likely be tortured and face an unfair trial under current US counter-terrorism legislation.

A police affidavit seen by CAGE Africa testifies that the ISIS contact who allegedly communicated with one of the twins, was a US agent. It is likely that the Thulsie case was a US ‘sting operation’.

‘Stings’ – where members of US security services lure vulnerable individuals into making incriminating statements and encourage violent acts – make up two-thirds of ISIS-related terrorism cases in the United States. This has prompted a former FBI agent to state that the US is “manufacturing terrorism cases”.

In South Africa this is known as entrapment.

Such entrapment has resulted in sentences of over 20 years under broad counter-terrorism legislation. Stings have targeted isolated individuals, the mentally ill, and individuals with strong political views.

In one case a  Judge Colleen McMahon declared, “The essence of what occurred here is that a government, understandably zealous to protect its citizens from terrorism, came upon a man both bigoted and suggestible, one who was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own…I suspect that real terrorists would not have bothered themselves with a person who was so utterly inept…Only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope.”

The state’s requests for further postponements of up until the end of April are also unconstitutional and will amount to a detention-without-trial period of nine months. This, in circumstances where the State’s main witness has retracted his statement to the police.

The State alleges that arrests made in the UK in November of last year and Kenya are linked to the Thulsies, but the circumstances of these arrests and the reliability of evidence gathered is yet to be interrogated in a fair trial.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said: 

“It is well documented that the United States security services and prison system torture individuals. Regardless of an individual’s guilt or innocence, nobody should be tortured. If South Africa concedes to an extradition in the twins’ case, to a country that espouses and practices torture, it will be in violation of its own constitution and various international laws.”

“Asking for postponement after postponement hints at weaknesses in the state’s case. Not only is it a violation of the twins’ rights not to be detained without trial, but it sets a dangerous precedent for others.”

“Questions as to whether the alleged evidence in Kenya and Britain was gathered under torture and in violation of due process must also be answered. This must be seen to be a fair trial so that communities are not angered and isolated, and justice is upheld.”

Press enquiries:

Karen Jayes
+27 84 648 1425
karen@cage.ngo


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Belhaj ruling a small step on a long path to justice: CAGE

London – The Supreme Court’s ruling allowing Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar to bring their case against the British government to court is a step in the right direction on a long path to justice.

Seven Supreme Court judges unanimously dismissed the Government’s appeal, concluding that the claims Britain was unlawfully involved in the rendition of Mr Belhaj and Mrs Boudchar, and are culpable for the torture they allegedly suffered, must be allowed to proceed in the English courts.

Though this is a dismissal of attempts by the Government to escape accountability, the ruling should be greeted with caution. There have been previous attempts by Whitehall to evade accountability of individuals, such as Sir John Chilcott’s inability to get former prime minister Tony Blair to answer for Britain’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

The Intelligence and Security Committee also stated that holding specific politicians to account would damage relations with the United States, which means it is likely that former foreign secretary Jack Straw will evade a trial.

The Belhaj family have requested a simple apology from the British government as opposed to financial compensation. Fatima was pregnant at the time of her ordeal.

CAGE Outreach Director Moazzam Begg, said:

“During the ‘Arab Spring’, I travelled to Libya with the legal teams of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi in order to encourage them to seek justice for what they’d endured. That initial meeting has finally resulted in today’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court to permit legal action against the government for being involved in kidnapping, false imprisonment and torture.”

“We note the failure of the CPS to pursue prosecutions against the security services in horrific torture cases of people like Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed and other Guantanamo prisoners, and this ruling must renew the demands on why the Government has seemingly tolerated criminal behaviour.”

“One of those facing serious allegations of complicity in torture is the former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who once infamously claimed in Parliament:
‘Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, …there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop.’
Today’s ruling by its highest court affirms that Britain’s involvement in kidnap and torture is anything but a conspiracy theory.”

“It is essential that individuals are held accountable for crimes such as torture, kidnapping and rendition. CAGE calls for a full criminal investigation into the individuals involved in this case.”

 

Press enquiries:
Ibrahim Mohamoud
Communications Officer
press@cageuk.org

 

(Image courtesy of Reprieve UK on Youtube)

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Leaked government document names ‘vetted’ organisations in receipt of £1.2 million in PREVENT funding

(London) – A Home Office document titled ‘Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue’ leaked by Public Interest Investigations highlights in full organisations and projects vetted and funded by the government to deliver the controversial PREVENT strategy nationally. Produced by the OSCT (Office for Security and Counter Terrorism), the document reveals:

– The OSCT’s admission that Faith on the Frontline; FAST, #MakingAStand (delivered by Inspire) and A Tale of Two Cities (film) are all ‘products’ of the Home Office’s Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU).

– The direct relationship between the OSCT and ‘third party provider’ organisations.

– The costs associated with these programmes and the specific locations it targeted at.

– The names of the ‘grass-roots’ organisations delivering government vetted projects.

Most notably the document refers to amongst many:

  • Faith Associates (Imams Online being one of their flagship projects),
  • Upstanding Neighbourhoods,
  • Families Against Stress and Trauma (FAST),
  • Active Change Foundation (ACF)
  • and London Tigers.

Despite being dated March 2015, the document highlights that the projects will be used to produce a best practice catalogue once the evaluation period is completed in March 2016.

Asim Qureshi, CAGE Research Director, said:

“These revelations call for a serious dialogue within the Muslim community on the legitimacy of government sanctioned activism. It also highlights the government’s deceptive approach in engaging with Muslim communities and again calls into question the failing PREVENT policy and its shadow, the global CVE campaign.”

“This document also conclusively demonstrates the relationship and oversight the Home Office has over ostensibly community led projects. CAGE’s earlier report “We are completely independent” and The Guardian revelations, have previously highlighted these points and demonstrated how RICU was in effect directing and attempting to manufacture consent for PREVENT amongst Muslim communities.”


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

(CC Image Courtest of mayu on flikr)

Detention-without-trial for Thulsie twins will extend to seven months: CAGE

Johannesburg – Continuous delays in resolving the Thulsie case mean South Africa is walking down the path of a detention-without-trial system, while the state buys more time to build its case with the assistance of unknown foreign governments.

The Thulsie case was postponed again this week until 17 January “for further investigation”. This means the twins will have been detained without trial for almost seven months by the time their case is heard. This has put considerable strain on the Thulsie family.

According to a police affidavit seen earlier in the month by CAGE Africa, one reason police have requested the extension is because the individual analysing the data on the Thulsies’ electronic devices resigned in October. The new individual is currently being trained “by a foreign government” in data analysis.

It is in the interests of all South Africans that the case is swiftly resolved in a fair and transparent manner and that the process does not become beholden to foreign agendas.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“Questions must be asked about the motivation and modus operandi of the foreign government training the new individual in data analysis, and why they need so long. What is crucial is whether or not this mysterious government adheres to basic principles of international law and whether it is Islamophobic in nature.”

“For the trial to be fair, both sides of the story must be told. It is already apparent that the ISIS contact allegedly in touch with one of the Thulsie brothers was an undercover US agent, who may well have encouraged incriminating statements and behaviours in order to create a terrorism case, as has happened in the majority of terrorism cases in the United States. This possibility needs to be considered so that the rule of law is respected.”

“This case will set the tone for how Muslim conversations and opinions are viewed through the prism of counter-terrorism. We call on the court to adopt an independent and objective view and not fall under the spell of foreign governments who have their own agendas and often employ underhanded methods in the ‘War on Terror’.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo
+27 84 648 1425

 

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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ISIS contact in Thulsie case was a US agent

Johannesburg – A police affidavit seen by CAGE Africa states that the person connected to ISIL who was allegedly communicating with one of the Thulsie brothers, was a US agent.

The exact nature of the communication as well as who initiated the contact is still unclear.

There have been many reports of entrapment in the US, where FBI agents act undercover and create terrorism plots using vulnerable individuals who may or may not have expressed strong views, then have the security agencies swoop in at the last minute to “disrupt the attack” and “capture a terrorist”.

This is usually followed long prison sentences for these individuals, as well as press releases and interviews with journalists during which time the security agencies harness public opinion to accept more securitisation and surveillance of Muslims. This is all in an effort to boost a multi-billion dollar counter-terrorism industry.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“The use of undercover agents in so-called ‘sting operations’ is key to keeping the ‘War on Terror’ alive. It is dangerous – especially since US law protects these agents to the extent that they are even allowed to advocate and encourage violence. In some cases in the US, undercover agents have even provided weapons and money. Former undercover agents have even said that the FBI is manufacturing terrorism cases.”

“We urge the court and public to closely scrutinise these methods and the agent involved. Such individuals must not remain above the law. Entrapment is a dishonest and deceptive process. Questions must be answered as to how the agent got in touch with the Thulsie brothers and how involved he was in prompting incriminating statements and behaviour.”

“The judicial process must be perceived of as being fair by the community. With this case, South Africa has the chance to really scrutinise what are often underhanded methods by the US in the ‘War on Terror’. CAGE Africa urges the court to do just this in an objective and courageous manner.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo
+27 84 648 1425


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

The Kenyan flag.

CAGE Africa calls for enquiry into police killings of three Muslim women in Kenya

Johannesburg – CAGE Africa calls for a full and independent enquiry into the deaths of Tasmin Yakub, 25, Ramla Abdirahman, 19, and Maimuna Abdirahman, 21, who were killed by police at the central police station in Mombasa, Kenya on September 11 this year.

According to police, the three women had recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, and had walked into Mombasa Police Station armed with a knife, a petrol bomb and a suicide vest. Police said they had fired on the women to thwart a terrorist attack, while one of the women was burnt almost beyond recognition by her incendiary device. Police have subsequently arrested seven alleged co-conspirators.

There are, however, several concerns with this version of events. According to human rights activists the three girls went to report a stolen phone, fought back when male officers attempted to forcibly remove the niqab of one, and were all then shot dead and at least one set on fire to lend credence to the cover-up story. No weapons or suicide vests have since been produced.

Post mortem reports seen by CAGE show excessive police force: Ramla was shot seven times, including twice to the head, and Tasmin was shot eleven times. Maimuna died from severe burns.

Furthermore, Maimuna and Ramla’s father was reportedly co-erced into signing an affidavit stating that he would not hold police officers accountable for their actions.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“Two video clips of events give credence to the notion that this is a cooked up story. One clip shows Tasmin and Maimuna lying on the ground outside the police station. One sits with her right arm in the air before collapsing next to the prone body beside her and rolling onto her back. Over the next two minutes at least two armed officers take turns firing seven shots at the girl who was collapsing. The second clip, allegedly filmed inside the police station, shows the horribly burned Ramla, lying on the floor, moaning as police question her. The call to prayer can be heard in the clip showing that she was left without medical assistance for two and half hours and died in severe pain.”

“There are no weapons and no injured police officers. The police station also does not display any damage from an alleged detonation. If the women intended to harm, they should have been arrested and given a fair trial – instead this is an extrajudicial killing.”

“By using reasons of ‘terrorism’ to justify killing Muslims, police risk inflaming tensions even further. The only way out of this cycle of violence is a return to the rule of law and justice. We call for a full and independent enquiry into these events.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo
+27 84 648-1425


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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CAGE urges France not to extradite Redouane Aberbri and Rachid Ait El Hadj

London – CAGE urges the French authorities to stay the extradition of Redouane Aberbri and Rachid Ait El Hadj, two French citizens who face the risk of torture if deported to Morocco.

Rachid and Redouane were arrested in 2004 on a Moroccan arrest warrant based on torture evidence that linked them to the 2003 Casablanca bombings. Despite never being charged with involvement in the plot, and it never being suggested that they were involved in it during the case, both were sentenced to eight years in prison. Since their release, they have rebuilt their lives and worked in a successful Hajj and Umrah agency.

The law that was invoked in their case, the association de malfatuers (criminal association), has been criticised by leading human rights organisations for resulting in convictions based on weak or circumstantial evidence. The unjust nature of their case is further underlined by the use of evidence derived from torture in Morocco.

Following the attacks in France, the interior ministry has attempted to strip all those previously accused of terrorism of their nationality and deport them. Unfortunately, the cases of Rachid and Redouane have exhausted all legal avenues in France. This means they are at an imminent risk of extradition.

Rachid Ait el Hadj spoke to CAGE:

“This is oppression. We have done nothing. We’ve served our sentences and started a completely new life. The French authorities are using the heightened security situation as an excuse to remove citizenship and deport French nationals. I am married and have children and grew up in this country.”

“I have no links to the country of my origin, Morocco. The last time I visited it was on 2000. I am worried that if I am deported to Morocco I may experience injustice and have torture evidence used against me. Even worse I fear for my own personal safety as a person of interest in relation to terrorism cases in Morocco.”

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“Rachid and Redouane are only connected to Morocco by birth. Since they were toddlers they have lived, studied, worked and married in France. They should be given their full rights as European citizens. We urge the European Court of Human Rights to stop this injustice, before the French authorities rush the process through, as has happened before.”

“Using a fear-based environment to invoke unjust laws is the hallmark of discrimination and oppression, and has unfortunately become routine in the global ‘War on Terror’. We urge the French authorities to abide by the rule of law, stay Rachid’s and Redouane’s extradition, and give them their full rights to challenge their case in a fair trial.”

 

(CC image courtesy of Parti socialiste on Flikr)


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Only the complete scrapping of PREVENT and its like will do: CAGE

London – CAGE is opposed to any attempts to resurrect or rebrand PREVENT, or put it in the hands of Muslim organisations. The problem with PREVENT is not who is delivering it, but the fact that it is based on flawed theories and bogus ‘science’ – as well as its clear danger to civil society.

We call on all Muslim organisations and civil society groups to join our calls to scrap PREVENT and its like entirely. The policy leads to discrimination, family trauma, lack of due process and the violation of rights, including of free speech and association. It also threatens the right to dissent, thereby standing a real chance of causing political violence rather than countering it.

Furthermore, serious questions have also arisen around PREVENT funding, which in many cases has been used opportunistically to deliver activities and campaigns that divide society.

PREVENT is not just a Muslim issue. There is widespread concern across civil society and professional practitioners about PREVENT theory and methodology. PREVENT methods although originally applied to Muslims are now being applied to others, and are being used against student activists and left-wing groups.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“PREVENT is a politically motivated programme that seeks to control belief and behaviour, limit debate and discussion in academia, and dilute civil society into a force that is no longer able to question and challenge the government. This has to be opposed no matter who delivers it.”

“Proposals for a “grassroots-led” counter-terrorism programme are unfortunate attempts to rescue the government narrative, which reinforces the idea that terrorism is a Muslim problem when statistics show that this is not the case. It is also an attempt to get Muslims to take ownership of what is the result of wider societal problems and ongoing aggressive foreign policy, while the government remains blameless.”

“CAGE will continue for the total repeal of PREVENT with partners in wider civil society and a reversal and an undoing of the ideas that have been embedded amongst professional practice, regardless of who is implementing it. We call on all Muslim organisations to act with us as equal citizens and not pander to what is at heart an Islamophobic agenda.”

 

(CC image courtesy of FarzanaL on Flikr)


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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CAGE welcomes release of Mohamedou Ould Slahi after 14 years detained without charge

London – CAGE welcomes the release of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian prisoner who was in US military custody at Guantanamo Bay – without charge or trial and under torture – since 2002.

Slahi was reunited with his family in Mauritania. However, after 14 years of waiting, Slahi’s mother was not there to greet him: she passed away waiting in vain for her son’s return.

Slahi became a best-selling author after his book, Guantanamo Diary, was published in Britain last year. The book – an extraordinarily intelligent, insightful, shocking and even humorous memoir of his incarceration – was released eleven years before the author was. It told of how Slahi was beaten, subjected to sleep deprivation, loud music and freezing temperatures – but also spoke of the kindness of some guards.

The book had readings in the British parliament by notable actors and received wide acclaim. The famous novelist John Le Carre described Slahi’s ordeal in the book as “a vision of hell, beyond Orwell, beyond Kafka…”

Slahi was the last of the Mauritanian prisoners to be freed. Last year, Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz was released around the same time as British resident, Shaker Aamer.

CAGE outreach director Moazzam Begg, said:

“The campaign to set Slahi free has been a long arduous one and I know there will be a sense of achievement by all those who fought so hard for his release – including those in Britain who played an important role, alongside Slahi’s own family members.”

“Slahi on the other hand, despite being renditioned to three countries, falsely imprisoned and tortured for so long, neither holds any animosity nor seeks revenge. He believes his reward is with Allah and this was all part of his fate and test. He’s better than his tormentors. That is something they will have to live with.”

“It is hard to imagine any other prison facility that has been spoken about so negatively and unanimously condemned throughout the world than the US facility at Guantanamo Bay. And yet, it remains open, even after Slahi’s release, still with sixty prisoners too many.”

(Image courtesy of ICRC)


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.