Posts Tagged ‘stop torture’

stop_tortureWe have featured Moses before on this site since news of his release has been received.  Briefly, he was arrested for allegedly stealing some mobile phones.  He was then brutally tortured and the confession extracted from him was used to sentence him to death.  He has been in prison for 10 years but a world wide campaign has resulted in his release.  The Salisbury group was active on his behalf and over 400 signatures were collected and a petition sent to the Nigerian Embassy in London.

Moses has written a description of his release and how he was reunited with his family and this can be read here:

Article by Moses

An item on Moses and the involvement of the Salisbury Group appeared in the Salisbury Journal on 2 July which unfortunately does not appear to be available on line.

Moses’ piece ends thus:

If I have my way, and can stop torture, I will be the happiest man on earth. I don’t want any future generation to go through what I went through in that torture chamber.

On 28 May 2015, Moses was pardoned after nearly 10 years in jailOver 800,000 of you around the world took action demanding justice. 

Nigeria fact sheet prepared at the time of the campaign.

We today erected the display in the cloister at Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate the signing of Magna Carta and to illustrate the #StopTorture campaign.

Display in the cloister

It will remain in place for many weeks.  There is also a panel on the Human Rights Act.

UPDATE: 22 January

Raif Badawi’s scheduled public flogging on Friday 23 January is unlikely to be carried out following examinations by a medical committee, which found him unfit.  He is a prisoner of conscience who received 50 lashes earlier this month.  He continues to be at risk of receiving the remaining 950 lashes.

On Wednesday 21 January Raif Badawi was taken to the King Fahd Medical Hospital in Jeddah and was thoroughly examined by a medical committee of around eight doctors.  After hours of examinations, the committee concluded that he has high blood pressure and recommended to the authorities that he not be flogged.  However, Raif Badawi remains at risk of further flogging, as long as the sentence stands.  This risk is further enhanced because the medical committee’s recommendation is not legally binding on the authorities.

Mass protests have recently been organized by activists at Saudi Arabian embassies worldwide condemning the flogging of Raif Badawi and calling for his release.  There have also been official appeals, including the governments of the USA and Canada. Raif Badawi’s wife and children currently live in Canada.  The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called the flogging “at the very least, a form of cruel and inhuman punishment … prohibited under international human rights law, in particular the Convention against Torture, which Saudi Arabia has ratified”.

On 9 January Raif Badawi received 50 lashes in public, in front of al-Jafali Mosque in Jeddah.  The second set of 50 were expected to take place the following Friday, however a doctor examined him and concluded that his wounds had not sufficiently healed and he could not withstand another round of lashes.  Raif Badawi was sentenced by the Criminal Court in Jeddah on 7 May 2014 to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, followed by a 10-year travel ban, a ban on using media outlets, and a fine of one million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600).  The conviction and sentence stemmed from Raif Badawi’s creation of the Saudi Arabian Liberals website (which the court ordered to be closed) and the accusation that he had “insulted Islam”.  The Court of Appeal in Jeddah upheld the sentence on 1 September.  The case is thought to have been referred to the Supreme Court in December.

See the urgent action below

We make no apology for returning #SaudiArabia, firstly to highlight a dreadful beheading described in the Daily Mail and secondly, to provide a link to an Amnesty Urgent Action concerning Raif Badawi.


‘A woman beheaded in a Saudi street for killing her husband’s six-year-old daughter screams her innocence in graphic footage of the execution uploaded to the Internet.

‘An executioner in Mecca, the holy city, took two swings to hack off Layla bint Abdul Mutaleb Bassim’s head, after she was found guilty of beating the girl and raping her with a broomstick.

‘The incident has sparked outrage in the country, but not because of the brutal punishment meted out. Rather Saudis are up in arms that the execution was filmed and posted online, where the woman’s family might see it.

Read more:

Urgent action

This concerns Raif Badawi who was due to receive his second bout of 50 lashes but is not medically fit enough to receive them.  Altogether he is sentenced to 1 000 lashes and has received the first 50.  Full details of this are in the attached file.  Please find time to write.  Continued world wide protest at the actions of this brutal regime do seem to be having an effect.

Raif Badawi

UPDATE: 18 January

The second bout of 50 lashes was postponed following huge worldwide protests.  Kate Allen of Amnesty International contrasted the willingness of (UK) Ministers to condemn the Charlie Hebdo massacre but are strangely silent when it comes to the Saudi actions.

50 lashes and only 950 to go …

saudi floggingOver the last few days, the world’s attention has been focused on France and the events following the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices last week.  World leaders, including David Cameron, went to Paris on Sunday to join in the demonstration and to show solidarity with the French people. 

Also last week, Raif Badawi received the first of his 50 lashes in a square outside the Juffali Mosque in Jeddah to a cheering crowd.  His crime is to run a blog called Saudi Arabian Liberals which criticised the religious police.  Among the charges was ‘insulting Islam’ and the original sentence was 600 lashes.  Judges subsequently increased that to 1 000 lashes and a fine of a million Riyals equivalent to around ¼ m US dollars.  His lawyer has also been condemned to 15 years in prison.  His wife has fled the country and lives in Canada.  Bizarrely, the Saudi Government has condemned the killings in Paris whilst suppressing free speech in their own country.

Saudi Arabia ratified the UN Convention against the use of torture or other cruel and unusual punishments in 1997 but, in common with many other countries, ignores it.

This sentence and the punishment has been condemned around the world.


Sources: Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; The Guardian; Independent

We attach an urgent action concerning North Korea.  Nine people have been forcibly returned to NK and

Jooil Kim - a North Korean escapee - at the signing in Salisbury

Jooil Kim – a North Korean escapee – at the signing in Salisbury

are at risk of torture and/or execution.  We are pleased to see the country receiving a great deal more attention over the last year or so and there is now greater understanding of the ghastly conditions that people experience in the camps. Please write if you can.

Urgent action

CIA torture #stoptorture

Posted: December 22, 2014 in stop torture, torture, USA
Tags: , ,

The world was shocked – briefly – last week with the publication of Dianna Feinstein’s report into the use of torture by the CIA around the world in its ‘war against terror.’  The report examines in great detail the methods and effectiveness of those methods and also the effects it will have on the United States’ reputation around the world.  In her words:

‘[It has done] immeasurable damage to the United States’ public standing, as well as the United States’ longstanding global leadership on human rights in general and the prevention of torture in particular.’  (p16)

When we have campaigned in the street against the use of torture most people hurry on by, after all we don’t use torture in the UK do we?  Some find the subject distasteful and even those who stop to sign a card will often decline to take a fact sheet with the details of what is happening to someone described on it.  The fact remains that it is still widely used around the world despite the great majority of countries having signed UN pledges otherwise.

It has to be said in the United States’ defence that they are one of the few countries which could enable an investigation take place and then publish the results, despite redactions, for all to see.  The United Kingdom who, along with other countries around the world, aided and abetted the CIA in its activities has gone to great lengths to frustrate, delay and otherwise prevent details of its involvement becoming known.  It is to be hoped that over the coming months and years details will emerge to show our complicity in this sordid activity.

The report goes into great detail of the use and effectiveness of the methods used.  The world was especially shocked to learn of ‘rectal feeding’.  Precious little evidence is provided of any effectiveness.  It notes that a lot of useful information was provided before suspects were then tortured and that many of the claims about counter-terrorism successes were ‘wrong on fundamental aspects’ (p2).

So how has this come about?  Torture is of course as old as the hills.  But there are several aspects which keep it alive in the modern state.  Firstly a belief in its effectiveness despite evidence to the contrary.  Part of the blame is a kind of Hollywood view of terrorism.  The report quotes the TV series ’24’ the first of which showed a man being fearsomely tortured to reveal the vital secret which our hero then spends the next 24 hours dashing about trying to frustrate.  Buried within this is the assumption that an individual has a key piece of information and once sufficient pain has been inflicted, he (or she) gives it up.  But how does anyone know?  The problem being that people will say anything to get it to stop so just because a piece of information is finally revealed, how does anyone know how accurate it is?  This kind of thinking is demonstrated in the familiar question ‘if you knew someone had a key piece of information which could save hundreds of lives but he won’t tell you, wouldn’t you torture him to get hold of it?’  But how do you know it is key?  The report notes that seven of the 39 detainees they looked at produced no information at all despite relentless beatings, waterboarding, starvation and sleep deprivation.

Another familiar Hollywood feature of crime series like CSI and NCIS for example, is the copious amounts of information that the officers seem to have at the press of a button.  A screen suddenly appears on a wall with flashing dots to show where the culprit is and they all dash off to apprehend him.  It is part of the technological view of crime detection.  This engenders a belief that simply getting the information will enable the law enforcement agencies to close in on a terrorist cell.  The problem was that the record keeping by the CIA was so poor combined with their lack of cooperation with other agencies such as the FBI, meant that little of value was derived from the activity.  (p13)  The reality of what actually happens on the ground is miles away from the fantasy world of TV series.

This Hollywood inspired view of the world goes someway to explain the public’s attitude to the revelations.  It is seen as a regrettable necessity when a war is being fought against a terrorist enemy.  If it keeps us safe, then what does it matter if someone is deprived of sleep for a few days to get them to talk?  The end of saving hundreds of lives justifies the means of bad treatment of a handful of detainees.  We cannot afford to be too squeamish when dealing with fanatics after all.

But the activity has corrupted the governing process.  It was ineffective so lies were told about valuable information being gained when next to none was.  People like Secretary of State Colin Powell were kept out of the loop.  The media was deceived into believing that terrorism plots were being interdicted when in reality few if any were.  The White House was lied to and up and down the CIA deception was practised.  When some detainees died as a result of their torture no one was brought to account.  Foreign governments were dragged into the process to provide locations known as ‘black sites’ where individuals were taken to be tortured.  Foreign governments such as the UK government lied about ‘rendition’ flights through the UK, in particular Prestwick.  The use of Diego Garcia which the USA leases from the UK, is a story which may slowly unravel over time.

Torture is widely practised around the world.  It is routinely used to coerce people and to inhibit  opposition parties.  If the world’s leading nation – the United States – does it then the moral force they might apply to the nations who routinely use it is dissipated.  Let us hope the Feinstein Report results in an end to the practice in the States.

On Saturday 15 November the group carried out a signing for the #stoptorture campaign.  Cards for five

Preparing for the signing

Preparing for the signing

individuals who have allegedly been tortured were available for people to sign and we secured the magnificent total of 267.  It was the first time out for the torture wheel which is modelled on the infamous wheel used by the Philippine police.  Various forms of abuse are put on a wheel which they spin to decide on what method to use on a victim.

Although we achieved a good response, many refuse to sign and one person ventured the opinion that ‘they must have deserved it.’  Torture is widely used around the world and is practised in 141 countries despite nearly every nation having signed the UN protocol against its use.

The cards will be posted over the net few days to the relevant authority where the victims are held.

Torture wheel

Torture wheel

Don’t forget the Salisbury Arts Centre film on 4 December.







The meeting took place tonight with a speaker from South Korea.  A full report will appear soon.

#stoptorture  And a reminder that we are running a stall on Saturday 15th in the Market Place to highlight the issue of torture around the world.  If you can come along and sign or better still, help for an hour that would be great.  It will be the first outing of the torture wheel based on the Philippine’s security services wheel used to decide on how they are going to torture a suspect.

Group campaign event, Saturday 8 November

Group campaign event, Saturday 8 November

We have several events in the next couple of weeks and anyone free to help will always be welcome.

  • Today! Saturday 8 November at the Guildhall.  We shall be holding an event in aid of our #NorthKorea campaign and we will be doing a moving display at 10 o’clock and our first YouTube posting if we can manage it.  If you are free at that time that would be really useful – we need people to hold some cards.
  • Thursday 13 November at 7 pm (note earlier time).  Normal monthly meeting followed by a talk by Kenny Latunda Dada who has been to Salisbury on two previous occasions and Bona Shin who is a South Korean activist.  They will be talking about #NorthKorea.
  • Saturday 15 November at the Library which will be a card signing as part of the Stop Torture campaign, #stoptorture.  If you can help or come along and sign that would be appreciated.


Update: See this Human Rights Watch blog:

A victory was achieved today in the long running battle by Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar to get justice and redress for being tortured in Libya.

Belhaj was a Libyan politician who was allegedly abducted and secretly flown to Libya where he was tortured by General Gaddafi’s security forces.  He has brought the case against the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter terrorism at MI6.  After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, papers were discovered in Libya which implicated the British security services in the torture of Belhaj and his wife.

In December 2013, the High Court struck out the civil lawsuit brought by the claimants, holding that since the claim called into question activities of a foreign state on its own territory the act of state doctrine precluded the court from hearing the case.  The Court rejected the UK Government’s argument that state immunity (a principle of international law by which a state is protected from being sued in the courts of other states) operated as a bar to the claim.

Judge Mr Justice Simon found “with hesitation” that the case could not go ahead and expressed his concern that “what appears to be a potentially well-founded claim that the UK authorities were directly implicated in the extraordinary rendition of the claimants, will not be determined in any domestic court; and that Parliamentary oversight and criminal investigations are not adequate substitutes for access to, and a decision by, the Court.”

In February 2014, the claimants were given permission to appeal the ruling on the act of state doctrine and the UK Government cross-appealed contesting that, in addition to the act of state doctrine, state immunity also precluded the claims from being heard.

On Monday 30 June, the NGOs Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, JUSTICE and REDRESS filed written interventions jointly in this case, which may set an important precedent for future claims brought by torture victims.

In the Court of Appeal’s decision it noted, among other things, the changed nature of public international law which has expanded to include the regulation of human rights …  It went on to observe that ‘unless the English Courts are able to exercise jurisdiction in this case, these very grave allegations against the executive will never be subjected to judicial investigation.’ 

Andrea Coomber of Justice said that the Government’s case would fundamentally undercut the international rule of law and undermine the global commitment to remedies for victims of human rights violations.

Part of the Government’s case was a fear of embarrassing the United States who had colluded with MI6 in the alleged abduction.

It is frequently stated that the British Government does not carry out torture and we have signed the relevant treaties to that effect.  Rendering people to countries to, in effect, subcontract this evil process is unacceptable.

The government is considering whether to appeal.


Brick Court Chambers,

The Guardian

Redress (see link at bottom of this blog)

Reprieve (ditto)

Amnesty International (ditto)