tv Inside Story 2018 Ep 146 Al Jazeera May 27, 2018 2:32pm-3:01pm +03
says dozens of refugees and migrants have been shot and wounded while trying to escape human traffickers in libya the victims from area try a theo pierre and somalia fled the town of bani walid on wednesday doctors without borders says fifteen people were killed and twenty five injured colombians are heading to the polls to elect a new president it's the first vote since the two thousand and sixteen peace deal between the government and fark rebels that ended fifty two years of conflict the white house says it won't lift sanctions on venezuela despite the release of an american citizen president donald trump welcome back joshua hole to be imprisoned for two years on weapons charges the release came after a meeting between u.s. senator bob corker and venezuelan president nicolas maduro on friday it's inside story now.
yemen secret torture prisons u.s. politicians want to know whether there is an american connection to the disappearance of hundreds of prisoners have u.s. forces broken the law by torturing suspects during interrogation this is entitle. to the program fully back to the u.s. house of representatives has voted to investigate the u.s. role in torture prisons in the yemen and wants the defense secretary to find out
the associated press says hundreds of men captured in the hunt for al qaeda fighters in southern yemen disappeared into a secret network of prisons and human rights watch found that the united arab emirates and its allies detained and tortured hundreds of people in their three year war against the rebels we'll get to our guests in just a moment but first rob reynolds has more from washington. the associated press news agency was the first to uncover the existence of a network of secret prisons in yemen run by the united arab emirates in a report published last year the eighteen secret prisons reportedly have as many as two thousand prisoners and those prisoners have been subjected to a variety of brutal tortures including electric shocks beatings burning and sexual abuse those findings were largely confirmed by a special panel of experts appointed by the u.n. now this legislation passed by the house is part of
a much larger defense department budget bill it would have to go to the senate to be then sent on to president trump for his signature to become law the senate just recently voted to approve gina haskell as director of the cia as haskell was allegedly involved in activities including torture at u.s. black site prisons in earlier years. according to u.s. law it is illegal for u.s. personnel to be involved in torture however those protections are much less stringent when it comes to surrogates or u.s. allies actually carrying out brutal acts the u.s. has been supporting the u. the u.a.e. and saudi arabia in their battle against who's the rebels in yemen for about the
past three years. all the associated press investigation says secret prisons are in military bases ports and airports vein and even a nightclub some detainees have been flown to an m. iraqi base across the red sea in every tree in u.s. defense officials acknowledge u.s. . involvement in interrogations to a.p. but denied any knowledge of human rights abuses former inmates described being crammed into shipping containers blindfolded for weeks on end and smeared with excrement at the main detention center at riana airport in the southern city of mccullough they said they were beaten trust and sexually assaulted well let's bring in our guest now for today's inside story joining us in beirut is christine becky she is the yemen and u.a.e. researcher and rights watch. editor in chief of the yemen post and
in how my lebannon nabil hurry a former u.s. diplomat and former deputy chief of mission in yemen a warm welcome to you all thank you for being on inside story christine if i can start with you in beirut how hopeful are you that any investigation by the u.s. into the role of american troops in the torture of detainees in yemen secret prisons can actually bring an end to what goes on in these prisons first of all thank you very much for having me and i think the real first question is what's going to happen in the senate so it's a big step forward that the house has pushed some of it through two or reason way from the u.s. in fact investigating and publicly discussing what they find in terms of the u.s. role in torture and abuse and i am decides that because a.p. released there were june twenty seventh human rights watch released or at that scene month and yemeni activists and lawyers have been talking about. even the who are these reports were released and yet we still have very little information regarding the in which the u.s. is eating with the arms issue in the u.a.e.
and learned her continued to deny any role in it used to spike the fact that evidence continue to mount not only that day but also there is our fault in abuse in a bill curry in amman a do you agree with christine who says seems to believe that where a long way. from an actual investigation into the u.s. role in these abuses it might take a very. long time. yes i agree and certainly until the elections of november twenty eighth the year because right now the majority in congress in both houses are republicans and unfortunately donald trump seems to all of the republican party despite all the scandals that have been coming out so when the democrats the governor majority if they become a majority after november elections then these investigations only here lou will have
a better chance of going the distance and producing public information and censure against any u.s. officials involved. in sanaa your thoughts the measure voted on by the house of representatives if it goes through and there is an investigation would require the pentagon investigate the u.s. allies and what they have been doing in yemen but also whether american troops were involved in any form of torture in these so-called secret prisons in yemen just how difficult would it be to conduct such an investigation on the ground when it actually happens very difficult thought to be honest with you it's very difficult also to find any proof that u.s. forces were involved in the torture itself we talked to a couple of senior intelligence officials in the south allied to the u.a.e. they did confirm that these secret prisons were present that the torture was present but they did i could not get any confirmation that u.s.
forces were involved in the torture they were aware of the torture us forces were aware of the torture and the times were present during the torture and but i personally have feel that it's very hard to get evidence that the u.s. forces were directly involved in the torture rather than. being aware of it or being the preacher who came who do we know is actually committing the actual abuse the torture is secret prisons i know there's been an investigation by the a.p. what more information do we have about the perpetrators of these alleged abuses possible the u.s. does not need to torture anyone in yemen because they always have arabs to do it for them so are the u.a.e. the saudis even the yemenis themselves at times would rather do anything for the us if asked to so. they would do their crimes for them and they will be held
responsible on the other side but as of now the evidence that we. have through confirmations from officials majority through u.a.e. forces who have love or tortures and. in coordination with the us government and with the knowledge of the us government but the other torture has been undertaken by u.a.e. forces now are what we are also aware that the torture has very much decreased over the last four months especially since january for i don't know what reason and yes it's still present yes it's still are it still happens but i'm much less to the extent that he used to happen when the human rights watch report and the a.p. report were launched last june christine back me in beirut so what sort of evidence is there about these abuses mostly a we understand committed in prisons in southern yemen you know what sort of research is out there to justify an investigation on on the part of the u.s.
into a stall in all this. well i think the evidence of the u.e.s. role and u.a.e. backed proxy forces in yemen is clear so when human rights watch that our court last year which was released in june twenty seventh we did interviews with dozens of people former detainees family members lawyers activists officials we've got soto's of some people's injury we talk to people who themselves have been abused we met with people who had been working on these cases for months and months and months and again they didn't believe anything that we've reported which you should say you didn't believe anything we reported in the associated press that a separate investigation the u.n. panel of experts two years in a row has done best occasions on the u.e.a. union forces roll into teeny related use and again like i said yemeni activists players and organizations have been doing their own investigations and work on this so that evidence i think is clear and often deniable the big question mark is as
has been said what the u.s. role is so the u.s. told the associated press and the u.s. has said very clearly publicly that they're working closely with the u.a.e. in south yemen in counterterror operations but again the question mark is ok well how does that translate to what they knew about the if that was happening against a team needs and what role if any they had and and i think the only way we get those answers is again through impartial investigations which is why i do sort of salute the efforts in the house to push this forward and i hope the senate is as courageous to push this forward but i very much worry that unless congress steps up the executive given the fact that they've basically been silent on this for around a year won't so it really is up to congress to push these kinds of transparency questions and conversations or and maybe a hurry as christine says says they i mean they have in various investigations into these alleged abuses in these torture presence in yemen and yet we have seen no action taken on the international level anyway can maybe a serious genuine u.s.
investigation into this when you consider. at the new cia chief gina haskell was involved in these kinds of us black-eyed operations before my pompei or the us secretary of state has endorsed torture even the us president donald trump has endorsed torture can we expect any any genuine investigation into this but i'm not going to be optimistic station i think if you're logically the are on the wrong track and they don't seem to care very much with rights abuses and in terms of the expertise not the look you know that around him is the little group. of experts so i think most of them seem to be incompetent if you look. but i think there are two points that need to be made here in terms of investigations and to thinking the truth to independent yemeni voices and they do
it that there are yemeni journalists who are risking their lives i was to cover these issues and i think in congress and in the national media these voices need to be heard three have firsthand story and the sort of the. other but sort chart have been confirmed not only him but them on but in but you see it so the second one thing it should be pretty is that even if american personnel are not directly involved a lot of this going on or have been watching is going on now that's like a late for american law off the. list of american if you will what that is and personalities are prohibited as when it is no longer the third or the unit is using them against civilians and that includes we do still have to work sure how came i must marry you or your many journalists out to tell us first what we know
precisely about the role of u.s. children in yemen what are they doing that not in yemen in general but in south yemen to this effect. very very working through our allies as mr behold he mentioned in south yemen is part of the u.a.e. and they are in charge are giving the intel if needed to the u.a.e. forces to the saudi forces when it comes to attacks or when it comes to. imprisonment of certain targets or suspect that could be civilians etc so their role is intelligence giving their role is to evaluate their role has also been to be present during these interrogations if needed i've high level targets or suspects. very direct role on the are aware of what's happening inside these interrogation rooms and but but i directly involved the torture itself christine do you do you agree with a hike email says that the u.s. before says are aware the u.s.
troops are aware of what's going on in these interrogation rooms but perhaps choosing to turn a blind eye to what's happening that well i think the question is what time period we're talking about is not going as a as an earlier at this point it wouldn't be plausible for us to just say that they're not aware that the u.a.e. and u.a.e. proxy forces are called in abuse and so yes because again be evidence at this point about that part puzzle it's been mounting for over a year and so the question is what have they done now that evidence has come to light not only to ensure that their own officials are not complicit in use as has been released but also that their allies are not committing it because as the problem across the yemen more and more allergic including against these but also in south yemen it really isn't just the u.s. should not be just concerned was a u.s. person themselves doing the torturing they should also be concerned if we're going closely with the u.a.e. you know if they're doing as they admitted to the june sending questions reading interrogation transcripts sending in here gators into some of these detention
facilities whether they were there are not many abuses happening that put them in a position of ability to influence the behavior of the u.a.e. and you eat yes. forces as well as a legal risk of complicity and uses and that's what's so frustrating about the fact there hadn't been it doesn't appear to be real action or at least transparency on the part of us as to what in the world they've done now that all upset it's come to light and bow if he can't hear our partner being involved in some of these horrific abuses and i do kind of want to emphasize that they could and that's what's so frustrating is that if congress were to step up the u.s. could play a good role in terms of pushing and making very clear that torture is not acceptable but as has been mentioned by some of the other commentators at this point it needs to be congress because the executive has not made that clear in any way in very opposite under really needs to at this point in sort of u.s. political dynamics make it very clear where they stand and that's why i very much hope that the senate follows the house's example and just have
a real conversation does push this notion of best occasion for right let me bring in a bill in how man a once again we were talking about the u.s. role in yemen is sufficient transparency in your view about what the u.s. is doing right now in yemen there is nothing. but what this administration anywhere in the world nothing you learn in washington to begin with i have very little place in yemen itself the focus were about three years has man on campus terrorism operations your target has mainly been ill gaidar and to some extent i suppose in yemen. in pursuit of the use there are so the u.s. still has work with local security officials. now with the war in yemen they seem to work more with the u.a.e. now in was instance even on that when president saleh was president and we worked
with his security organizations there was all of the bias and the information being relayed to us officials there for u.s. intelligence officials that he lie on security forces only going to get in on the u.a.e. and so instead of bringing them up kind of people to him during a game they often bring them this is the. political opponents who are the is if they can they grab a hold of them or view one suspected of being friends of the who these know this guy has a wide net and it ends up that the u.s. is being involved in targeting people who should be innocent until proven guilty and there is no way that these people have been proven to be by anyone but some would say how can may be a process of justice in a country like yemen right now and christine i want to bring that to you how can
there be an investigation and you know a process of justice in yemen when you have an ongoing war a civil conflict can can that happen simultaneously you do have an ongoing war but at the same time you have i mean when we're talking about an investigation we're talking about first of all what in the world has happened to the us what are they doing where have they not that should be able to happen regardless of the circumstances right same thing for the u.a.e. what have our partners you know what have they been doing where have they been and where have they been holding people and what have they done to ensure that they're not not only not torturing people which they should absolutely not be doing but not arbitrarily detaining people forcibly disappearing people and then finally on the end in sight i mean yes there's still a conflict in yemen but in for example aden where we documented many of these uses you also have lawyers. you have people who really are committed to trying to push the notion of some form of fair process forward and the conversation has always been well it's a war so we can't have approach and criminal justice standards but the like the
very fact is international law still applies when there's a conflict there are certain rights that don't get very heated during a conflict in there are ways in which there could absolutely be investigations into what's going on and i think the very obvious evidence of that is there have been impartial independent investigations so again not only human rights watch but a u.n. panel of experts associated press yemeni journalists activists organizations somehow we've all managed to do real serious in-depth investigations into these issues and so one would think that the u.s. working with the u.a.e. working with the yemeni government working with yemeni civil society would similarly be able to uncover and do a real investigation should the political will exist but i think the question again comes back to does the political will exists i know it doesn't it's on the executive side and this is really i mean this question is really a litmus test for congress because at this point the war in yemen is three years old there's a variety of files whereby the u.s. is not only working with allies who are committing frequent laws or violations but
the u.s. itself is exposing itself to the rest let's and so when will congress f. up either on the question of torture in south yemen or on lawful attacks in north yemen it's really and this is an opportunity for congress to do so and make very clear that no we are not willing to work with allies who torture it's unacceptable and we're making this clear to the executive branch to the white house that's not acceptable in yemen it's not acceptable for us the globe that came out of us find deputy the same question i asked a second ago can maybe a meaningful investigation into these human rights abuses in yemen can just be rended when there's an actual conflict when people are dying a can this happen simultaneously it's very sad that the u.s. administration has lost its reputation the current u.s. administration has lost its a position in yemen especially you know for many of the violative that have been ongoing whether in the north. for the attacks all the attacks or in the south the u.a.e. torture cases except there are so i am very pessimistic on this i don't feel that
there is a will in general to have to take this forward the human rights report has been there for almost a year now and it was basically ignored by us media us. authorities are. currently right now running the country so there is no will right now. and as you know guess mr holder said the congress right now and the senate is both are both controlled by the republicans reckons so they're basically not willing to take this forward so if this case is a go forward it has to happen maybe after november after we see what happens in the next elections for now i am very pessimistic that anything will happen maybe our way what about other international actors we've talked a lot about the us in our discussion. by the coalition in yemen has killed many of course and saudi arabia we know has fought a recent inquiry into what's been happening on the ground in yemen the u.k.
also has fought inquiries into its role in yemen and they seems to be opposition from various parts of the international community to investigate these abuses that are committed in in yemen. definitely i think the europeans should investigate the explorer early on fortunately in the birds at least in terms of soldiers on the ground now be working hand in glove with the. u.s. forces the intelligence agencies look both film reviews work together very closely and certainly then the u.s. is in pretty absolutely richer over one hundred because it's a billion we. just. heard can. i must point out here that the u.s. officials been in war on. at least we're proud of the years it's my me you know or at least then being in
a war zone that not exonerate if you from following meters and the army will go through all who have made it risky to american law oak war or groupie or any of these laws that were being injured on the rock earlier we should not be you've been through years of that sort ok i'm just going to give the last word to a christine christine i know you think we're a long way from an actual investigation but fast forward you know to when there is an investigation if there is evidence that the u.s. military or intelligence personnel but dissipated in these abuses being committed in the secret prisons in yemen then what i mean has a has anyone ever been held to account when it comes to these so-called black sites well i mean i think that the conversation around jena has was a good reminder why we should say conversations around accountability seriously i mean and so yes the u.s. is absolutely you know the question of accountability for the role of u.s. personnel in torture during the war on terror but my very strong hope is that if
anything has come out of the last few years that it's me clear that when we say things like people need to be held to account justice needs to be done it's not just about looking to the past it's also about the future so even for republicans if they believe that their stance against torture then that includes holding people to account those who are u.s. personnel role in torture and again we have allies who are involved in torture that would make very very clear that acceptable ok well leave it there thank you so much christine for speaking to us. in sanaa thank you as well and of course not be able corey thank you for taking part in this edition of inside story and thank you for watching as always you can watch this program again any time by this getting our web site al jazeera dot com for further discussion go to our facebook page at facebook dot com for sash a.j. inside story you can also of course also join the conversation on twitter handle is that inside story for me thought back to the whole team thank you for watching by
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