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UN denied unrestricted access to Manning

The US is denying the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture unfettered access to detainee Bradley Manning.

Private first class Manning was arrested in May 2010 on suspicion of leaking incriminating military documents to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.  He remains in US custody awaiting court marshall.

The conditions of his detention have been widely criticised as violating human rights, especially the period July 2010 to April 2011 which he spent in a maximum-security military prison in Virginia called Quantico.  Since then, Manning has been in a medium-security prison in Kansas, where his conditions are said to have improved.

Prof. Juan E. Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on TortureUN Special Rapporteur Juan Méndez, an Argentine human rights lawyer and himself a survivor of torture, notes:

“I am assured by the US Government that Mr Manning’s prison regime and confinement is markedly better than it was when he was in Quantico.  However, in addition to obtaining first hand information on my own about his new conditions of confinement, I need to ascertain whether the conditions he was subjected to for several months in Quantico amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr Manning under conditions where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid.”

The UN Special Rapporteur, an independent expert on the prevention of torture, is entitled to interview prison inmates in private.  Such unrestricted, confidential access is a critical tool in uncovering and preventing torture.

However, despite months of negotiations, the US Defense Dept will only allow Prof. Méndez to visit Manning if their meeting is monitored.

Last year Prof. Méndez sought US permission to visit their detention facilities to Guantanamo Bay, but has yet to receive a reply.

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