The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has reached the conclusion that the United States violated some of the rights of the Army private accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.
Pfc. Bradley Manning has been in U.S. custody since May 2010 and as we’ve reported, Juan Méndez, the U.N.’s top torture official, has already had some tough words for the U.S. leading up to this report.
Today, Méndez wrapped up his 14-month investigation and a few paragraphs on the case are published in an addendum to the speacial rapporteur’s report to the U.N. General assembly.
Here’s the key section:
“The Special Rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence. The Special Rapporteur again renews his request for a private and unmonitored meeting with Mr. Manning to assess his conditions of detention.”
Méndez spoke to The Guardian and in that interview he went as far as saying that the United States’ treatment of Manning was “cruel and inhuman.”
“I conclude that the 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement (regardless of the name given to his regime by the prison authorities) constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture,” he told the paper. “If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture.”
The conditions of Manning’s detention came to light when his lawyer released a letter about a year ago. David Coombs alleged that Manning was being held in solitary confinement for 23-hours a day and that during a one week period, he was made to strip naked so guards could inspect him.
Manning is facing 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Last month, he deferred a plea. No trial date has been set.
In the report, the U.S. said Manning was being held not in “‘solitary confinement’ but ‘prevention of harm watch’ but did not offer details about what harm was being prevented.”