The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US military of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment towards Pfc. Bradley Manning.
The former army analyst – who was recently charged with aiding the enemy – stands accused of downloading thousands of classified documents that ultimately ended up on WikiLeaks.
According to Juan Mendez, the US military was at least “culpable” of cruel and inhumane treatment by keeping Manning locked up in solitary for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period at Quantico – in conditions that might have constituted torture.
“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,” Mendez wrote in an official statement obtained by The Guardian.
“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. If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture.”
Mendez also noted that solitary confinement may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals – regardless of their specific conditions.
“Depending on the specific reason for its application, conditions, length, effects and other circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to a breach of article seven of the international covenant on civil and political rights, and to an act defined in article one or article 16 of the convention against torture,” he added.
Manning is currently being held in a medium-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is awaiting a military trial. A total of 22 charges have been leveled against the soldier including: aiding the enemy; wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information; and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.
If found guilty, Manning will likely spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole.