Stop Unlawful Drone Strikes Stop The Use Of Torture Update

The latest on Gina Haspel and a major victory in our fight against torture

Some big news from the Reprieve family:

A victory in our ongoing challenge to the CIA’s ‘War on Terror’ era torture and rendition program – and exposure of the UK Government’s complicity in it. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has offered an unprecedented apology to Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar for her government’s role in their abduction, torture, and rendition to Libya in 2004. 

Abdul-Hakim, a prominent opponent of the Gaddafi dictatorship, and Fatima were both were kidnapped, tortured at a CIA black site and delivered back to the Libyan regime. Fatima was pregnant at the time.

“I’ll never forget the sight of my kidnappers, dressed all in black and wearing ski masks, waiting for me in a white cell in the Bangkok detention site. […] A man grabbed my head and shoved me into a truck. They blindfolded and trussed me. […] I have no idea how long I was in the Thai secret prison because no one would let me sleep. The cell was white and stark, with nothing in it but a camera and hooks on the wall. The masked abductors were waiting. I was terrified. They chained me to the hooks. Because I was midway through my pregnancy, I could barely move or sit.”  – Fatima describing her abuse at a CIA blacksite in The New York Times

This apology for what they went through represents real justice for Abdul-Hakim and Fatima – and draws into sharper focus the impending promotion of Gina Haspel, who we know oversaw a CIA blacksite in Thailand.  

Haspel, President Trump’s nomination to run the CIA, evaded difficult questions in her confirmation hearing last week about the depth of her involvement in CIA torture – and her personal views on the enhanced interrogation program.

Writing in The Independent, Eric Lewis, President of Reprieve US, highlighted why this matters, and what Congress and the Supreme Court must now do to prevent the torture of detainees in future:

“It is, of course, highly troubling that Trump would nominate Haspel to head an agency that has tortured in the past. It is even more troubling that no binding law prevents any head of any agency from ordering foreign detainees from being tortured. What is necessary is for Congress to show its support as a coequal branch to affirm that all detainees have the right not to be tortured and for the Supreme Court to affirm that the right not to be tortured is a Constitutional right that binds US officials— everywhere and always.”

As always, thanks so much for your support for this crucial work.