Human Rights First has published two reports outlining the scope of abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. One report, By the Numbers, which Human Rights First co-authored with other organizations, outlines the widespread nature of the abuse. A second report, Command’s Responsibility, addresses the issue of deaths of prisoners in U.S. custody.
From By the Numbers:
- There have been at least 330 cases in which U.S. military and civilian personnel are credibly alleged to have abused or killed detainees. These cases involve more than 600 U.S. personnel and more than 460 detainees. Allegations have come from U.S. facilities throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantánamo Bay.
- Only 54 military personnel—a fraction of the more than 600 U.S. personnel implicated in detainee abuse cases—are known to have been convicted by court-martial; 40 of these individuals have been sentenced to prison time.
- More than 400 personnel have been implicated in cases investigated by military or civilian authorities, but only about a third of them have faced any kind of disciplinary or criminal action. And even in cases where U.S. military investigations have substantiated abuse, military commanders have often chosen to proceed with weaker non-judicial forms of disciplinary action instead of criminal prosecution.
- There have been 98 deaths of detainees in U.S. custody.
- At least eight, and as many as 12, of these people were tortured to death.
- Forty-five of the 98 deaths were suspected or confirmed homicides. Thirty-four deaths were homicides under the U.S. military’s definition; Human Rights First found 11 additional cases where the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention.
- In 48 cases – close to half of all the cases – the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced.
- Only 12 deaths have resulted in any kind of punishment.
- The highest punishment for a torture-related death: 5 months confinement.