Conflict & Justice

Human rights report reveals illegal rendition

JD says this all began with turmoil in Somalia: in 2006, Islamist authorities took control of Somalia. That set off alarm bells in Washington and Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian military invaded Somalia with the backing of the U.S. and ousted the Islamists from power in Somalia. (So where do these illegal renditions come in?) After the Ethiopian invasion, there was a mass flow of people fleeing the violence, and some suspected terrorists also crossed over into Kenya. The Kenyans arrested at least 150 of these men, women and children. In late February and early March, at least 85 of these individuals were secretly boarded onto a series of three different flights and rendered into Ethiopian custody. These individuals were then taken to detention facilities in Ethiopia. The individuals taken to the capitol of Ethiopia, almost all of them were interrogated by American FBI and CIA agents about alleged terrorist links. (How do you know Americans were involved in this?) The detainees have cited the fact that they were interrogated by Americans and we also received letter confirmation from an administration official. (And this would be illegal?) It makes the U.S. complicit in illegal renditions and the U.S. should've known and likely did know this was illegal rendition. (Was there any proof of torture on the behalf of the U.S. or Ethiopian agents?) We have not spoken with detainees who have alleged torture at the hands of the Americans, but they have described brutal torture at the hand of the Ethiopians. (Are these prisoners being charged of given a trial?) We know of 10 individuals in the capitol, 9 of whom are Kenyans, and one who has dual citizenship in Canada as well. He is being charged in Ethiopia and not being given a lawyer, the trial is completely closed and completely unfair. (What about those still not in prison?) The majority have been released, but there are still 22 of whom we know nothing about their whereabouts. (Has Human Rights Watch discussed these findings with the U.S. State Department or the FBI?) Both organizations have declined to comment on our report. (Is there any doubt that terrorist activities go on in Africa?) No, and there is reason to be concerned about terrorist activity in East Africa. The problem is when the U.S. is involved in illegal programs, it ends up fueling anti-American militancy.

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