Document - Weekly Update Service 07/91 (plus addition)
AI Index: NWS 11/07/91 add
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TO: PRESS OFFICERS
FROM: PRESS AND PUBLICATIONS
DATE: 22 FEBRUARY 1991
ADDITION TO WEEKLY UPDATE SERVICE 07/91
Following is a summary of AI's concerns during 1990 in the main countries involved in the Gulf war. The summaries indicate that AI has had long running concerns in all countries before the start of the Gulf war and provide the context for our current concerns. The information can be used as background information in giving interviews but should not be issued as a statement. Please note that Morocco is not included in this summary - that entry will be sent as an addition shortly.
1. POL 30/WU 02/91 INTERNAL (for response only)
22 February 1991
SUMMARY OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL'S CONCERNS DURING 1990
IN COUNTRIES INVOLVED IN THE GULF CONFLICT
Scores of political prisoners were still in prison at the end of 1990 after unfair trials in previous years. Dozens of suspected government opponents and others were also arrested last year and detained without charge or trial, including prisoners of conscience. A few of them were children.
Security police reportedly tortured or ill-treated political detainees to obtain confessions and dozens of them were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials in 1990.
Egyptian security forces continued to detain and torture government political opponents during 1990.
Several thousand members and sympathizers of Islamic groups, including prisoners of conscience, were detained without charge or trial from several weeks to months last year under state of emergency legislation.
Trials were held before "emergency" state security courts whose verdicts are not subject to appeal but must be approved by the Egyptian president.
Reports of torture and ill-treatment continued. Most at risk were those who were unlawfully transferred to special security police centres where they were cut off from lawyers and relatives. The most common forms of torture included beatings, suspension, electric shocks and burnings with cigarettes. The government failed to conduct prompt and thorough investigations into these reports of torture.
At least 38 death sentences were passed last year, most for murder and drug-trafficking, and five people were executed.
For further information, see MDE 12/03/91, MDE 12/02/91 and MDE 12/01/91.
Hundreds of conscientious objectors to the national service laws, most of them Jehovah's Witnesses, continued to receive sentences of up to 15 months' imprisonment in 1990. Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience, because the alternative civilian service is punitive - twice the length of ordinary military service. Amnesty International also believes individuals should be able to seek conscientious objector status at any time - several people were refused this status last year because their applications were made after their call-up orders were issued.
Several judicial inquiries were underway last year into allegations of ill-treatment in police custody.
For more detailed information, see AI Concerns in Western Europe: May 1990 - October 1990 (EUR 03/02/90).
Some 25,000 Palestinians, including prisoners of conscience, were arrested in connection with the intifada (uprising) in the Occupied Terrorities in 1990. Over 4,000 were administratively detained without charge or trial and thousands of others were tried by military courts. By the end of 1990, 13,000 were still detained or imprisoned.
Dozens of Israelis, including Druze and Jewish objectors to military service, were imprisoned as prisoners of conscience.
Ill-treatment during interrogation was systematic and there were reports of punitive beatings and torture. Methods included beatings with truncheons and rifle butts; hooding with dirty sacks; sleep deprivation; confinement in small, darkened cells and squeezing of testicles. In May, one man died apparently as a result of beatings by soldiers.
About 120 Palestinians, including children, were shot dead by Israeli forces, often in circumstances suggesting unjustifiable killings. Official guidelines on the use of firearms appeared inconsistent with internationally-recognized principles on the use of force.
Israeli soldiers misused tear-gas, endangering lives.
Scores of babies needed urgent treatment after tear-gas canisters were thrown into a Gaza maternity clinic in June and into the infant ward of Makassed Hospital in October.
Investigations into abuses by government forces and related prosecutions appeared to be inadequate.
One person remained under sentence of death.
More than 5,000 people were executed in Iran in the last three years and a "death commission" sent over half of them to the gallows in the space of a few months in 1988. Many were executed after summary trials where they were convicted of criminal offences, such as drug-trafficking.
People were executed within days of their arrest; they were denied legal counsel, had no right to call defence witnesses and no right of appeal.
Political opponents continued to be arrested and tortured during 1990. Over 20 prominent government critics were arrested last June simply for signing an open letter to President Rafsanjani criticizing the lack of rights and freedoms in Iran. Most are still in prison and some are still at risk of torture or ill-treatment to force them to give televised confessions.
Torture, beatings and intimidation of prisoners was reportedly widespread both before and after trial. Despite hundreds of torture allegations made by former prisoners since 1979, Amnesty International knows of none that have been investigated since an inconclusive inquiry into torture in 1980 and 1981.
Thousands of political prisoners imprisoned in previous years and in 1990, including prisoners of conscience, remained in detention without charge or trial or after unfair trials.
Torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners remained widespread and Amnesty International has documented over 30 methods of torture and ill-treatment used in Iraq for many years.
Thousands of people who "disappeared" in previous years remained missing. Most of the "disappearances" occurred during the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran. However, hundreds of Iraqi Kurds also "disappeared" and several others were executed after surrending to the Iraqi authorities in 1989 and 1990 and reportedly receiving assurances that they would not be harmed.
British-based journalist Farzard Bazoft was executed in March 1990 after he was sentenced to death for espionage. British nurse Daphne Parish was released in July after receiving a 15-year prison term for espionage in the same trial. In July, a Swedish man of Iraqi origin was executed after he was convicted of espionage. He was arrested in August 1989 after returning to Iraq, reportedly to visit relatives.
Dozens of real or suspected opponents of the government, including possible prisoners of conscience, were held in administrative detention without charge, trial or judicial review during 1990. Many were released within a short time of their arrest.
At least 26 political prisoners were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials by the Martial Law Court. Thirty political prisoners sentenced by this court in previous years remained in prison.
There were new reports of torture or ill-treatment of people in the custody of security forces, mostly while they were held incommunicado and after lawyers' requests for visits had been refused. Two prisoners who died in custody may have been ill-treated by being shackled to a hospital bed while terminally ill.
At least four people were executed after being convicted of murder.
KUWAIT (AI concerns before Iraq's invasion on 2 August 1990):
Amnesty International's main concern in Kuwait before its invasion by Iraq was the imprisonment of suspected government opponents, including possible prisoners of conscience. Many of the prisoners were jailed after unfair trials before the State Security Court.
Twenty-six Kuwaitis were arrested and detained for periods up to three weeks between February and May 1990. Thirteen of them were Shi'a Muslims accused in February of trying to undermine the government or plotting to overthrow it. The authorities reportedly tortured several of them during interrogation to extract "confessions." All were released untried in March.
In May, 13 Kuwaitis including former members of parliament and businessmen were arrested and held for four days. Eleven were charged with holding illegal meetings and two with distributing leaflets without a licence. They were all released on bail and subsequently pardoned.
Four Kuwaiti Shi'a Muslims held in untried detention since their arrest in September and November 1989 were tried by the State Security Court in May 1990. They faced ten charges each, including membership of a prohibited organization and inciting sedition. All four were acquitted and released in June. At the trial, the defendants stated that they had been tortured during interrogation.
The death penalty was still in force in Kuwait up to 2 August 1990 and one execution was carried out in 1989.
OCCUPIED KUWAIT (since 2 August 1990):
Thousands of Kuwaitis and other nationals were imprisoned, and many were tortured or killed following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990.
Hundreds of victims were tortured by the Iraqi military. Some were beaten, shot in the limbs, given electric shocks or were raped.
Thousands of people were reportedly arrested, some as young as 13, and are believed to be still held in Iraqi and Kuwaiti prisons, detentions centres and homes. Others were killed shortly after their arrest, in police stations, before firing squads or at their homes.
Scores of people suspected of opposing Iraq's annexation of Kuwait were executed by hanging. At least 18 people were executed for looting, according to Iraqi government statements.
Several hundred Western nationals were arbitrarily detained in Baghdad and in other secret locations in Iraq and Kuwait. They were released in December 1990.
Large scale deaths of infants were reported when they were removed from hospital incubators by or on the orders of Iraqi security officials. (Note: See Question 8 of the Middle East Questions and Answers Paper - MDE 02/WU 01/91 - issued on 22 January 1991 as an addition to weekly update NWS 11/02/91)
A continuing lack of central government control, together with violent conflicts between governmental and non-govermental forces, made it particularly difficult to obtain accurate information about human rights violations. However, all sides were believed to have carried out abuses.
Syrian government forces and Syrian-sponsored groups reportedly extrajudicially executed scores of military personnel and civilians following the ousting of General Michel Aoun from East Beirut in mid-October 1990.
Hundreds of combatants and civilians were arbitrarily arrested by government forces and armed militias. Some may have been prisoners of conscience but few details were available. A few were released in prisoner exchanges but the fate of most of them was not known. Among those arrested were scores of people who reportedly "disappeared" or were tortured. Others were extrajudicially executed.
Among those arrested were about 200 Christian supporters of General Aoun arrested by Syrian military forces and Syrian-sponsored militias. The Lebanese Forces took hundreds of people prisoner, including civilians, during clashes between its militia and General Aoun's forces. The South Lebanon Army continued to detain without charge or trial about 300 prisoners, including youths, women and elderly men in Khiam detention centre in southern Lebanon. The fate of about 625 detainees reportedly arrested by the Amal movement in previous years remained unknown.
Thousands of Yemenis were deported between August and November 1990 apparently because of their nationality or their suspected opposition to the Saudi Arabian government's position on the Gulf crisis. Hundreds of them were tortured and ill-treated using methods such as beatings with canes and whips and sleep deprivation.
Government critics continued to be arrested - at least 28 prisoners of conscience and 12 political prisoners remained in detention without charge or trial at the end of the year. This included one well-known writer and journalist jailed on suspicion of being one of the organizers of a protest by women against a ban on female drivers.
Judicial amputations, floggings and the death penalty remained in use. At least five people had their right hands amputated. One American teacher received 90 lashes on charges of alcohol consumption and other unknown reasons before being deported last August. And 13 people were executed.
Four political prisoners were also imprisoned after unfair trials last year.
Over 280 prisoners of conscience remained in prison at the end of 1990. Some had been in jail for over 20 years. Thousands of political prisoners were detained without charge or trial during the year under Syria's state of emergency, in force since 1963, including family members held in place of suspected political opponents. Some political prisoners were still held even though their sentences had expired. Large numbers of suspected government opponents were detained, both in Syria and Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon.
Torture by security forces was routine and widespread and detainees were ill-treated through the denial of essential medical treatment.
The death penalty is retained for a variety of criminal offences and a wide range of offences against the internal and external security of the state. Since 1985, there have been 36 confirmed executions for people convicted of committing such as spying, rape of minors, attempted murder and drug trafficking.
Reports of widespread and systematic torture continued during 1990. Methods included being blindfolded and stripped naked, beating, hosing with cold water under pressure, electric shocks and the squeezing of testicles. There were at least four deaths suspected to have resulted from torture. Torture victims included large numbers of villagers in southeast Turkey detained and reportedly tortured because they were suspected of sheltering Kurdish guerrillas.
There were a number of reported extrajudicial executions, particularly in the southeast where security forces were most active.
Thousands of Iraqi Kurds who fled to Turkey from Iraq in 1988 to escape attack by chemical and conventional weapons were at risk of forcible return to Iraq. Over 2,500 were repatriated to Iraq under an amnesty from March to June 1990, some of whom may have been coerced with ill-treatment, intolerable camp conditions and intimidation. Seven others, some recognized refugees, were extradited and 40 were alleged to have been forcibly repatriated in January 1990.
There were thousands of political prisoners in Turkey, many of them prisoners of conscience. Hundreds had been sentenced to death or imprisonment after unfair trials. At the end of 1990, over 300 prisoners under sentence of death had exhausted all appeals.
Six men of Kuwaiti and Bahraini origin were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act last May, possibly for their non-violent political activities. Four were released without charge but two were deported on national security grounds. AI expressed concern to the government that one of them, Anwar al-Harby, was not allowed to appeal against the refusal of his asylum application and that he may have been expelled for his well-known human rights work on Kuwait. The government gave no explanation of its actions.
Amnesty International continues to call for an independent review into the Broadwater Farm case as it is concerned that false confessions may have been coerced from suspects.
The organization will be observing the Court of Appeal hearing of the Birmingham Six case beginning on 25 February.
Amnesty International was concerned by a number of incidents of disputed killings by security forces in Northern Ireland.
Several allegations of ill-treatment in police custody in Northern Ireland were reported last year.
Over 2,300 were on death row in the United States and 23 prisoners were executed in 1990. US law allows the execution of juvenile offenders as young as 16 - contrary to international treaties and standards which prohibit executing people who are under 18 at the time of a crime. The US is one of only six countries known to have carried out executions of people under 18 in the past decade. The execution of mentally retarded defendants is banned in only four US states. At least eight of the prisoners executed in recent years are believed to have been juvenile offenders. Several others had histories of severe mental illness. Last year, three states resumed executions after more than 20 years.
Evidence suggested that race continued to affect the passing of death sentences. An independent federal government agency published the findings of a survey it had conducted into the effects of race on capital sentencing. The agency had looked at numerous research studies on this issue carried out since the mid-1970s. Eighty-two per cent of the studies it examined suggested that those convicted of murdering white victims were significantly more likely to be sentenced to death than those convicted of murdering black victims.
There were also allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners at a number of prisons or in police custody.