On the same day that a major human rights organization issued a scathing report on Bush-era prisoner abuses, the United Nations alleged that the United States had violated a “long-standing” rule meant to prevent the torture of prisoners, by denying an official access to Pvt. Bradley Manning, the lone soldier accused of turning over secret documents to WikiLeaks.
Juan Mendez, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, criticized the U.S. government for preventing a meeting with Manning, meant to ascertain whether the conditions of the soldier’s confinement constituted torture. He insisted that an unmonitored meeting is standard practice around the world.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, that’s something even Bush officials permitted (PDF) for their alleged high value al Qaeda detainees, but Manning seems to be a special case for the Obama administration.
“At the Special Rapporteur’s request and after several meetings, the US Department of Defense has allowed Mendez to visit Pfc. Manning but warned him that the conversation would be monitored,” a prepared statement from the U.N. Human Rights Commission explained.
“Such a condition violates long-standing rules that the UN applies for prison visits and for interviews with inmates everywhere in the world. On humanitarian grounds and under protest, Mendez offered to Manning, through his counsel, to visit him under these restrictive conditions, an offer that Manning has declined.”
“The United States, as a world leader, is a strong supporter of the international human rights system,” Mendez is quoted as saying. “Therefore, its actions must seek to set the pace in good practices that enhance the role of human rights mechanisms, ensuring and maintaining unfettered access to detainees during enquiries.”