PM's daughter blows whistle on 54 nations that helped US detention program

675-Amarit_079By Chidanand Rajghatta

It does not matter if it is Republican President George Bush or Democratic President Barack Obama in the White House; Prime Minister Of India: Manmohan Singh’s daughter Amrit Singh’s canvassing for human rights and campaign against secret rendition and torture cuts across party lines — and across countries.

In an exhaustive 214-page report released Tuesday, Singh, currently a senior legal officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative, has exposed 54 countries that helped facilitate the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret detention, rendition, and interrogation programme in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The report draws a stark picture of scores of people, both hardcore al-Qaida types and wayfarers, who were caught in the massive and foggy US counterterrorism drive worldwide after 9/11.

Singh has also named 136 people who were detained and transferred by the CIA and its allied or cooperating intelligence outfits, the first time such an extensive and detailed list has been compiled. She describes how and where they were apprehended, transferred, and interrogated. The list, which includes many Pakistanis, Aafia Siddiqui among them, is the largest one compiled to date, and it reveals how detainees were moved around the world without due process, often to countries which ran secret prisons and torture cells.

The 54 countries which were co-opted in the sweeping CIA drive against terrorism include the usual suspects such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya which have poor or non-existent legal systems, judicial oversight, and human rights. But it also includes western countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain, and Italy, some of which are fierce advocates of civil liberties and human rights.

India is not among the countries named in the report. The list of 136 detainees does not include any Indians, nor were any apprehended in India. A majority of them were detained in Pakistan in raids and many of them are Pakistanis, confirming the country’s reputation as a terrorist haven.

Singh, who is the youngest of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three daughters, was a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberty Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project before she joined the National Security and Counterterrorism program at the Open Society Justice Initiative last year.

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