Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Sun May 08, 2016 10:29 pm


Persistent allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners in Israel and the territories occupied by it after the 1967 war prompted a mission to discuss Amnesty International's concerns with the government. The following extracts come from the 'Report and Recommendations of an Amnesty International Mission to the Government of the State of Israel, 3-7 June 1979, including the Government's response and Amnesty International's comments'.

The following is a recent testimony of ill-treatment which is representative of allegations made in recent years as regards the type of ill-treatment and the circumstances surrounding arrest and detention. Dates and places have been changed at the requests of the individual involved. The words themselves constitute a paraphrase of the testimonies as they were received by Amnesty International.

'I was arrested in early 1978, at my home, while asleep. There were soldiers with guns all around, my mother was crying and my younger brothers were in terror. I was told to get dressed and then was put into a jeep and made to lie on the floor of the jeep. My shirt was taken off me and used to blindfold me. While I was lying on the floor of the jeep, the soldiers beat me on the head with their iron helmets, and kicked me.

'I was taken to the Moskobiya (a detention centre in Jerusalem) and here 1 was beaten by about five people, in the stomach, in the back of the head, and on the genitals. 1 lost consciousness.

'After breakfast the next day, 1 was taken to the interrogation room which had one table and two chairs. The interrogator asked me to speak and 1 answered, 'I did nothing.' He said, 'Now 1will force you to speak.'

'I was sitting on the chair in front of the desk and now he came and sat on the front of the desk, near me. He placed one of his feet on my genitals and pressed down on them whenever he felt like it. With the other foot he periodically kicked me in the face. The pressure on my genitals increased - it became very painful. At the same time he began to threaten me that my brother would be dismissed from his job. This treatment lasted for about two hours.

'Then my dossier arrived, and now the interrogator saw that 1 had been under interrogation several times before. I think the job of the first interrogator was just to throw fear into me. Now two other people were brought in to interrogate me. My hands were tied behind my back, to the chair. They began to beat me on the head and arms. One of them was beating me with a rope. This lasted about five hours. When 1 was sent back to my cell, my nose was bleeding, there was blood all over the inside of my mouth, and my genitals were blue.

'On the second day, I was again tied to the chair and a thick cloth sack was put over my head. But now I was not beaten. After some time, they took me into the courtyard and tied me to a pipe there so that I couldn't sit down, only stand. They left me this way for 48 hours, standing, with no food, no cigarettes, no sleeping, no going to the toilet. I urinated in my clothes at least twice. After this, I was sent back to my cell, where I rested for about two hours.

Prisoners in Nablus jail, Israel.

'Then I was taken for interrogation again. Now they began to throw information at me, that I had been a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They weren't beating me at all. Some of this information was correct and some of it was wrong. I admitted nothing, and they sent me back to the cell. I slept like a dead man. When I woke up, I did some exercises, since you have to be strong to withstand this kind of treatment.

'The next day, they brought before me a man who said that I had recruited him to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This man, whom I knew, looked like he had lost 15 kilos in weight. I admitted I had done this. Then they asked me how I got my orders. I told them nothing. Now a new torture began. I was again tied to the chair, but he had tied a rope to my penis and began to pull on the rope in time to the music on the radio he had turned on. The interrogator was laughing, dancing, and pulling on the rope. He was not even asking me questions. This lasted for several hours.

'And after this, I was again brought into the courtyard, tied to a pipe, and left standing for 48 hours.

'This kind of treatment continued for 29 days.

'It was only after 20 days that I first saw my lawyer. I was never seen by the Red Cross since my identity card is from East Jerusalem and the ICRC only visits prisoners from the West Bank.

'After this treatment, I was moved to another prison for about a month, where I was not interrogated. Then I was tried -- I had confessed to membership and recruiting -- and I was sentenced to eight months. After two months of this sentence, I was again brought to the Moskobiya for the same kind of treatment again. Now the treatment was even worse, because some other people had confessed and named me in their confession. Here I was under interrogation for 17 days but I said nothing since I knew I would be free in several months. But I saw the others who had named me, and they were in very bad shape.

'It is hard to avoid talking, but being prepared for the experience is the most important thing. Then you know that it is better not to talk at all - if you tell them something they will always want more, and they will hurt you any way to get it. You can never give them enough to satisfy them.' ....


1. Amnesty International reaffirms its view stated on several occasions since 1970 that there is sufficient prima facie evidence of ill-treatment of security suspects in the Occupied Territories by interrogators and detaining officials to warrant the establishment of a public inquiry into this matter.

2. Amnesty International is concerned that the present administrative procedures do not enable the Israeli authorities to bring forward conclusive evidence to refute allegations of ill-treatment.

3. The lack of such conclusive evidence is directly related, in Amnesty International's view, to the extended period of incommunicado detention permitted and often practised under the procedures now in effect in the Occupied Territories. During this period the arrested person is in the company only of interrogators and prison officials, may be denied visits from family, lawyer or personal doctor, and may not be brought speedily before the courts.

4. It is Amnesty International's view that certain legal provisions and practices enhance the possibility of ill-treatment of security suspects. These legal provisions and practices include:

(a) restrictions on the role of defence counsel in preparing the defence;

(b) security trials by military courts which are commonly composed of judges sometimes all of whom are career army officers and most of whom do not have formal legal training. Amnesty International questions whether sufficient weight is being given to that provision of Article 66 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which specifies that military courts are to be 'non-political';

(c) the frequent reliance in security cases on uncorroborated confessions given to police officers as the effective basis for conviction;

(d) the absence of effective opportunities for judicial appeal for those convicted of security offences.

5. The evidence available to Amnesty International suggests that the machinery for investigating complaints of ill-treatment by interrogating and detaining officials is inadequate.


Amnesty International, therefore, recommends that:

1. For reasons relating to the protection of suspects and security officials alike, a public and impartial committee of inquiry should be established to investigate the allegations of ill-treatment in their totality and the administrative and legal procedures and practices relevant to the arrest, confinement, interrogation and trial of security suspects. The committee's findings, conclusions and recommendations should be made public.

2. The terms of reference of this inquiry should include consideration of the interrogation process and the procedures permitting incommunicado detention. This committee of inquiry should examine:

(a) the rules relating to notification of arrest;

(b) the procedures governing visits to detainees by family and lawyer;

(c) methods both to improve the medical documentation available for assessing the treatment of arrested suspects and to facilitate the examination of suspects by private medical doctors;

(d) guidelines governing proper interrogation methods.

3. The terms of reference of this inquiry should also include examination of the legal rules and practices which may encourage ill-treatment. The committee should therefore consider:

(a) the composition of the military courts;

(b) ways to expand the role of defence counsel in preparing the accused's defence;

(c) providing legal rules whereby a conviction cannot be based effectively on an uncorroborated confession made in the presence only of police officers or other security personnel;

(d) the establishment of the right of judicial appeal for convicted security offenders.

4. The terms of reference of this inquiry should also include an investigation into the effectiveness of existing machinery for investigating complaints of ill-treatment.

5. Pending the establishment and reporting of such an inquiry, Amnesty International recommends that immediate steps be taken to ensure that security suspects under interrogation are protected against possible ill-treatment. Measures to this end should include access to family, lawyer and independent medical doctor promptly after arrest and at regular, brief intervals thereafter.

Published September 1980
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Sun May 08, 2016 10:30 pm


Amnesty International in the Eighties by Martin Ennals, Secretary General, from the 'Amnesty International Report 1980'.

In 1970 the international budget of Amnesty International was £28,741. The International Secretariat employed 19 people. There were 27 national sections and 850 groups. The idea of releasing prisoners of conscience by writing letters to governments seemed a little pretentious, but reflected proof of determination and concern. In 1980 the budget is £1,666,280; the International Secretariat has a staff of 150; there are 39 national sections and 2,200 groups. In 1970 the idea of the growth of Amnesty International into the type of structure or institution which exists in 1980 was unthinkable, or at least unthought.

The development of Amnesty International in the seventies was based on membership, research and action. The growth of membership enabled the recruitment of more researchers and then more support staff. The action program grew with experience and with increasing demands being placed on the International Secretariat by a membership hungry for work and eager to respond to ideas and facts. The novelty of the Amnesty International idea was replaced in the mind of the press and the public by an awareness of the accuracy of Amnesty International information. In the seventies Amnesty International became the first organization in the field of human rights to collect, systematically and impartially, information about the violation of a very limited number of human rights.

The Amnesty International mandate has been frequently debated but there is little doubt that it is largely because of its strict limitations that Amnesty International was able to develop effectively both its membership and its action program. Opposition to imprisonment of prisoners of conscience, to torture and to the death penalty is a program which unites people of all political and geographical backgrounds. Every society is capable of providing and does provide examples of violations of the rights which its constitution guarantees.

All nations have contradictions within their systems which create the tensions which lead to human rights abuses. Amnesty International has made no attempt to offer solutions to economic or political problems - solutions which are hard to find and which would divide the membership. On the other hand it has tried as an organization to establish through its work within the United Nations and in other governmental and non-governmental arenas, standards of conduct and laws which would make the violation of human rights more difficult in any political system and would make the exposure of human rights violations more simple.

Above all, however, Amnesty International in the seventies built up a reputation based on careful use of factual information collected and applied with the same impartiality. Governments still use the allegations of human rights violations as a weapon against their supposed enemies and governments still defend their supposed friends, despite their apparent violations of human rights. International trading, arming and aiding between nations has been little influenced by the internal repression which remained rampant throughout the decade.

On the other hand there were clear indications throughout the seventies that governments and, more especially, peoples were beginning to accept that human rights and their defence is a matter of international responsibility. The confirmation of the international standards of human rights spelled out first in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later in the conventions and international covenants which came into effect in the latter half of the decade confirmed Amnesty International's absolute belief that despite differences of environment, human rights are universal. In the definition of human rights there cannot be enemies and friends, rich or poor: only people.

As Amnesty International enters the eighties, therefore, it is a different organization in its capacities. But it is the same organization in its purposes. The challenge in 1970 was to develop the organization into a recognized instrument for the protection of human rights in a definite field. Amnesty International had to still the doubts of those who saw it as a tool of right or left; as an emanation of a western liberal ethic, or as a well meaning body of amateurs playing at international do-goodism. The critics of Amnesty International will always use such arguments; but the pattern of the criticism and of the movement's program is today so well recognized that Amnesty International no longer has to defend its existence: only its standards of accuracy and impartiality.

The challenge of the eighties is more complex and more daunting. To create and grow on an incoming tide of enthusiasm and recognition is delicate but exciting. To stabilize, structure and build with patience in a world where governments often seem inured against, if not immune to, criticism is probably more difficult but equally exciting. The stabilization has to start at the centre. The central component of personnel at the International Secretariat cannot and should not increase as in the past. The balance between the centre and the membership requires a strengthening in national structures and an expansion of the membership into new areas both of geography and participation. few techniques have to be developed which will enable better and more rapid use of information received and evaluated at the centre. The growth at the centre must be as a result of increased efficiency, not achieved by a substantial increase in staff. The growth, however, must be maintained: stagnation would lead to decline in capacities and use of resources.

New and better techniques must be evolved to harness the skills of the membership without losing the common language and style of the movement. It is indeed this very complexity of relating languages, styles and political and economic circumstances which is the challenge. Discipline within a voluntary and universal organization is difficult to apply and maintain. Finance is essential but the financial resources within the membership vary considerably. It is not the present complexity which is the problem. The problem we face comprises: the need to increase the complexities by adding new membership in areas hitherto unapproached; the need for new financial methods which will permit, without irritation, the coexistence within a democratic decision-making organization of those who pay and those who cannot; the need to develop new techniques which will enable a much wider use of Amnesty International knowledge and research, without the almost familial links which have until now existed within the membership.

In the seventies the centre struggled to keep up with the growth of members. But the organization remained very much rooted in the wealthy countries of the North with only tentacles slowly reaching the South.

The North/South dilemma is as much one for Amnesty International as for the rest of the world. The solutions may be as far reaching and, within the tiny context of Amnesty International, as revolutionary.

The first need within Amnesty International is to grow in areas where no Amnesty International movement yet exists. In the last decade Amnesty International has paid attention to development outside the capitalist and largely European countries where it first was born and later grew. Insufficient attention, however, was probably paid to the real dimensions of development. Amnesty International could not be identified and harnessed in Third World countries in the same fashion and with the same methods as in the highly developed economies of the West. It was a point of principle to have sections in Asia, Latin America and Africa, but the differences of culture, finance, attitude towards non-governmental organizations and means of expression were not always appreciated in either practical or conceptual terms. At the same time it became accepted that there were countries where Amnesty International could develop and countries where it would be impractical or ill-advised for political or human rights reasons. This dimension and limitation on development will need to be examined and probably challenged in the eighties.

The fundamental and central aspects of Amnesty International which need to be protected in any scheme of widespread development into new areas and therefore new styles can be summarized as:

- the impartiality of the work for the release of prisoners of conscience everywhere;

- the total opposition to the use of torture or the death penalty;

- the right to fair trial for political prisoners without undue delay in accordance with international standards;

- the collection and use of accurate information within the areas of Amnesty International's mandate;

- the fact that members do not work for prisoners in their own countries;

- the fact that research is the responsibility of the central bodies of the organization;

- the control of the movement by its participating membership;

- the protection of sources of information;

- the legal and overt nature of Amnesty International's activities.

- the significance attached by Amnesty International to the application by governments of international agreements, conventions, standards and commitments;

- the independent and self-generated financing of the movement as a whole.

The question to be answered is how, with these essential features preserved, can Amnesty International establish contact with, become recognized and active in, countries where there is little tradition of nongovernmental activity, countries where the political bias of human rights activists is mistrusted, where tension and deprivation result from the low level of economic and social rights, where a one-party state prevails or where the regime is run by a dictator. In all communities there are people deeply committed to the protection of human rights. Too often, indeed, the first stage in repression of a population is a governmental attack on the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and religion. In such circumstances Amnesty International has the problem of explaining to governments and to potential members of Amnesty International that participation in the movement is related to the protection of human rights elsewhere and that it is the role of the members in other countries to exercise and express concern about violations in the country in question. This is a difficult educational task.

In itself, however, the task is important because it carries with it the idea that the first line of defence of human rights is the knowledge that those rights exist, yet everywhere people are deprived of them. Amnesty International has yet to establish its priority in the field of human rights education. Its role has been seen as a catalyst to the role of others but there is no other organization which has the information on violations of human rights, the committed membership and the mandate to work in this field. Always education is low on the list of priorities and the importance of education in active protection of human rights is often overlooked.

The United Nations and Specialized Agencies have failed to promote serious teaching programs about existing international mechanisms for the protection of human rights. Governments and national organizations have failed to include human rights teaching programs as part of their support activities for the international organizations to which they belong. By supporting the development of international human rights education policies, Amnesty International can further protect those human rights with which it is concerned and encourage an interest in the work of the organization itself. Such support may also serve to reassure governments that Amnesty International's program coincides with policies already endorsed by the governments themselves. A major program of explanation to governments about the true nature of Amnesty International's activities and mandate is thus imperative if this target of universality of Amnesty International membership and activity is to be achieved.

It is not only governments, however, that are concerned. Efforts are needed to work with national organizations in countries where no Amnesty International membership is yet assured. National organizations in many parts of the world are close to governments in personnel and policies. To involve and collaborate with trade unions and professional bodies is to go a long way towards explaining to governments that Amnesty International's activities are impartial, motivated only by internationally accepted objectives and totally independent of any outside control other than its membership, which is open to all who accept the Statute.

The active participation in Amnesty International activities by interested organizations and individuals in Eastern Europe, China, USSR, Vietnam and Cuba is long overdue. There is a danger that unless Amnesty International makes a conscious effort to avoid it, the support for Amnesty International will come in some countries only from movements sometimes called 'dissident'. There are, however, many within the government framework who are concerned about human rights issues and who would willingly work internationally to help forward the objectives of Amnesty International if this distinction could be conveyed: that Amnesty International members are not responsible for Amnesty International activities in their own countries and that the organization applies the same impartial standards of information gathering and evaluation everywhere.

The same principles must be applied when exploring growth in areas where the need to develop in accordance with economic and social rights is used as a justification for the suppression of civil and political rights. The member states of the United Nations have repeatedly passed resolutions stating that all human rights are interrelated and of equal importance. There is sometimes a tendency in the West to excuse violations in some areas because of the economic deprivation which creates the contrasts and apparent conflicts in priorities between civil and political rights and economic and social rights. Amnesty International in trying to strengthen human rights activities, human rights awareness and the protection of human rights, must be ready to confront these arguments and extend its membership in the process.

Amnesty International has already acquired some experience in this field but is probably still too rigid, seeking a style and structure which may pose difficulties in countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Membership possibilities in the Middle East have so far been little explored by Amnesty International, apart from early contacts in Beirut and a committee not yet formalized in Egypt. Like Latin America there is an immense population with a common language but Amnesty International has not yet faced the challenge of large-scale membership action from countries with educational and economic development problems. In Latin America there are sections of Amnesty International in Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Yet much remains to be achieved in seeking and finding the type of Amnesty International activities to help prisoners which can best be carried out from these areas. Africa has no common language; ex-colonial languages are spread widely but to a limited proportion of the population. Similarly, in parts of Asia, the use of a common language results not in unity, but in a division of the population into those who can and those who cannot speak the second language of national and international communication.

The third category of countries where Amnesty International has yet to develop satisfactorily is those with consistently poor records of human rights violations. The risk of members in such countries becoming hostages to government has to be appreciated, but the challenge of the eighties includes finding the means of safely and effectively recruiting Amnesty International activists in countries whose governments by and large until now have been responsible for the violations of human rights which Amnesty International has tried to combat.

The purpose of extending activity in this way is to extend the protection of the rights which fall within the Amnesty International mandate. This is not an attempt to extend growth for the sake of size or wider representation. The purpose must be to extend respect for human rights and to involve more and more people in that objective. It does not matter if Amnesty International information is used by others, as long as it is used to help prisoners of conscience. It does not matter if others are selective in the use to which the information is put. What matters is that the information which Amnesty International gathers is well used and well understood. What also matters is that the reputation and standing of Amnesty International with regard to the impartiality and accuracy of its information should be maintained and respected. Growth in the eighties will come from greater efficiency in information techniques at the centre and widely differing action techniques in these new areas into which Amnesty International develops.

The problems of such an extension are considerable. There may be a need to look yet again at the movement's structure in order to regulate the separation of functions between and within research and membership activities, or to protect sources. It may be necessary to look at other international bodies with similar problems -- the Red Cross (with its tripartite structure) and other bodies which cross the boundaries of ideologies , cultures and continents. More investment is needed to communicate the meaning of Amnesty International activities in many languages. Massive efforts must be made to convince even the most repressive of regimes that Amnesty International is what it claims to be and that Amnesty International membership is acceptable and not subversive, supportive of human rights and not hostile to governments, independent and yet disciplined in its attitudes and in its program. Most of all, it must be shown that Amnesty International members are not involved in or responsible for Amnesty International activities in response to human rights violations in their own countries. As with education, this process of convincing governments can in itself increase protection of human rights. The more governments accept that Amnesty International is impartial, independent and universal, the easier it will be for them to accept Amnesty International standards and respond to Amnesty International criticisms.

Amnesty International is and must remain activist, effective and restricted in its mandate but not its membership. To achieve this will be difficult. It is a daunting prospect to try to convince governments that their critics are not only sincere but right. The finances of Amnesty International will require new examination and inventiveness to find the means of involving more people to meet the new thresholds of expenditure to finance research and travel.

The Amnesty International Report 1980 concentrates on the work of Amnesty International for its objectives through central research and the actions undertaken by the International Executive Committee and the membership. The report is intended for unrestricted circulation and is addressed as much to the international public as to the Amnesty International membership. It should, however, be read with a view to analysing where more and better things could be done: not only by Amnesty International but also by others acting individually or collectively, as organizations or as governments.

To summarize the challenge:

Amnesty International must:

- improve at all levels the gathering and using of information about prisoners whose cases fall within Amnesty International's mandate;

- find the ways whereby Amnesty International members, associates and supporters, individually or collectively from all parts of the world, of all political persuasions and regardless of economic resources can work on behalf of those prisoners;

- find ways to convince governments and peoples that human rights are universal and that their protection demands a universally shared responsibility;

- find ways to raise the level of awareness of the very existence of human rights to the point where knowledge is positive and mobile between agencies and peoples.

When Amnesty International meets the nineties it should be universally active both in working for prisoners and identifying prisoners to be assisted. The sophistication of impartiality must be accepted and appreciated by governments and opposition movements. Amnesty International is not and should not be a movement of dissidents or opposition elements in national internal affairs. Instead it should be working for the recognition that dissidents have rights and governments and peoples have the duty to protect their societies against abuses that result or may result in imprisonment, torture or death. To convince governments of this fact, which in principle they accept and to which they have in public committed themselves, is an amazing ambition. But so was Peter Benenson's contention that prisoners of conscience could be released by writing letters to governments.

Published 1980


[img] http://rapeutation.com/voicesfreedomN.1z43_small.gif[/img]

Whether writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience or staging protests such as this one, Amnesty International members around the world campaign tirelessly for human rights. Here Amnesty International members in Belgium demonstrate on behalf of those who have "disappeared": they have been taken into custody but all knowledge of their detention and whereabouts have been denied by the authorities. Many are never seen again.
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Sun May 08, 2016 10:31 pm


The revised and updated report 'Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR: their Treatment and Conditions' said that since its first report in 1975, Amnesty International had documented 400 new cases of people imprisoned in the USSR for exercising fundamental human rights. The organization believed there were many more such cases. Many prisoners of conscience were forcibly confined in psychiatric hospitals.

Amnesty International knows of more than 100 people who were forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals for exercising their human rights rather than for authentic medical reasons between 1 June 1975 and 31 May 1979. This figure does not include the many known prisoners of conscience who were put into psychiatric hospitals prior to I June 1975 and who in many cases remained confined after that date. Nor does this figure include cases on which Amnesty International regards the available information as inadequate for categorizing the confined person as a prisoner of conscience.

A great deal of new evidence on political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR has become available since 1975. A number of victims have emigrated, been met by foreign psychiatrists and other individuals and given detailed accounts of their treatment. Other victims have been released from psychiatric hospitals and their accounts of their treatment have circulated in samizdat. Several psychiatrists have emigrated from the USSR and been able to add information about their professional experience to what is known of the abuses.

Most important, the work of human rights activists inside the country in chronicling cases and practices of political abuse of psychiatry has become more efficient and better informed ...

Formal procedures for compulsory confinement

There are three formal procedures for forcibly confining people to psychiatric hospitals: (1) the civil procedure, applicable to those not accused of a criminal offence prior to being confined to a psychiatric hospital; (2) the criminal procedure, applicable to those accused of a criminal offence; (3) the procedure whereby individuals convicted of a criminal offence are transferred from their place of imprisonment to a psychiatric hospital.

Both the civil and the criminal procedures provide inadequate protection against wrongful confinement to a psychiatric hospital. In particular, they facilitate the arbitrary subjection of dissenters to psychiatric measures and make difficult the defence of such people through legal means.

However, in one important respect the established procedures offer a protection which, if respected by the authorities, would at least make wrongful confinement of political and religious dissenters and others rare. Under both the civil procedure and the criminal procedure even if individuals are diagnosed as mentally ill they may be confined to a psychiatric hospital only if they are shown to be dangerous to themselves or others.

In hundreds of cases of forcible confinement of dissenters to psychiatric hospitals there has been no suggestion, even by the authorities, that the subjects were physically violent or dangerous to themselves or others. In their persistent denials of political abuses of psychiatry Soviet officials, propagandists and spokesmen for the psychiatric profession have not addressed themselves to this most elementary principle of psychiatric practice, insisting invariably that well-known dissenters who had been confined were mentally ill, but rarely attempting to show that they were in any way 'violent' or 'dangerous'.

The following is a sampling of the types of actions which the authorities have used as grounds for confining people to psychiatric hospitals: giving song recitals in one's own flat (Pyotr Starchik, 1976); criticizing the government in the presence of workmates and other private citizens (Vladimir Rozhdestvov, 1978); trying to cross the border to another country without official permission (the brothers Alexander and Mikhail Shatravka, in the mid-1970s); persistently making religious craft articles (Valeriya Makeyeva, 1978); bringing personal complaints to high government offices in Moscow (Nadezhda Gaidar, 1976); publicizing one's demand to emigrate by carrying a placard in front of the Bolshoi Ballet (Valentin Ivanov, 1977) or a foreign embassy (Anatoly Uvarov, 1976); hanging up pictures of dissenters over one's sleeping place in a hostel (Mikhail Kukobaka, 1977); persistently seeking official permission to emigrate (Anatoly Glukhov in 1978 as well as twice previously); surreptitiously taking down Soviet flags in Lithuania on the anniversary of the October Revolution (Egidius 10naitis, 1977); distributing leaflets containing 'anti-Soviet slander' (Vyacheslav Zaitsev, 1978); writing complaints to government authorities (Anatoly Ponomaryov, 1977); trying to meet with a foreign correspondent (Vasily Zhigalkin, 1976).

The fact that the authorities have systematically confined non-violent individuals to psychiatric hospitals against their will is itself clear evidence that psychiatry has been abused for political purposes.

Criminal procedure for compulsory psychiatric confinement

... Under the criminal procedure, the accused loses virtually all of his or her procedural rights, and is left only with the passive right to an honest psychiatric examination and a fair court hearing, a right which in practice is unenforceable.

It is the investigator who decides whether the accused should be subjected to a psychiatric examination. When the investigator comes to such a decision, the accused is examined by a forensic psychiatric commission, usually in a psychiatric hospital or institution but sometimes also or instead in the investigation prison.


The investigator need not even inform the accused that such an examination is to be carried out 'if his mental state makes this impossible'. The accused also has no right to be told the results of the psychiatric examination or the recommendations made by the psychiatrists. Furthermore, the accused loses the right to be informed of any fresh charges against him or her, to be told of the results of the criminal investigation of the case or to be shown the materials compiled in the investigation. The law does not grant any special right to such people to have visits from their families. Normally dissenters subjected to psychiatric examination have no visits from their families until after their cases have been heard in court. Hearings usually occur between six and 12 months after the arrest.

In one of the very few procedural guarantees for accused whose mental health is called in question, the law states that participation of defence counsel is 'mandatory' at court hearings in such cases.

However, this provision of the law is as grossly violated in such cases as in other cases involving prisoners of conscience.

Commonly prisoners of conscience subjected to psychiatric diagnosis, and their families, have not been permitted to meet their lawyers or have any say in their selection ...

If the psychiatric commission conducting the forensic expert examination finds that for reasons of mental illness the suspect is 'not accountable' (a term sometimes translated as 'non-responsible') for his or her offence, this finding is submitted to a court together with a recommendation as to what medical measures should be applied to the subject. Instead of a trial there is a court hearing on the case in which the court decides: a) whether the accused committed a socially dangerous action (i.e. committed an act defined as criminal by the criminal code), b) whether to accept the expert psychiatric commission's findings as to the subject's accountability and c) what measures to apply to him or her ...

According to Article 407 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, it is left to the court to decide whether to permit the accused to attend the hearing of his or her case. In very few cases have prisoners of conscience been permitted to attend the court hearings which ruled on whether or not they were accountable. Furthermore, the accused does not have any legal right to send a written statement to the court ...

Earlier in this report it was pointed out that Soviet courts invariably convict dissenters brought to trial for political or religious reasons. Dissenters diagnosed as mentally ill fare little better. The courts have heard such cases without taking remedial action against flagrant violations of legality by the investigation organs and psychiatrists. The Ukrainian cyberneticist Leonid Plyushch, for example, was held in detention for one year before his case came to court, in direct violation of Article 34 of the USSR Fundamentals of Criminal Procedure. During the whole of this period, and for six months thereafter, he was not allowed to meet his wife or a lawyer.

Furthermore, the courts themselves have frequently added their own procedural violations to those committed by the investigating officials. Often such court hearings are held in camera. In Plyushch's case, Judge Dyshel classified as a state secret the court hearing on Plyushch's state of mind and ordered that the hearing be held in camera, although the case did not fall into the categories where this might be lawful.

Judge Dyshel also refused to allow court witnesses to give evidence in favour of the defendant. Finally, the judge did not allow Plyushch's legal representative (his wife) to participate in the hearing. Consequently:

The courtroom was empty; neither the accused, nor his legal representative, nor a psychiatric expert, nor the accused's relatives were present. So great was the isolation of the hearing from the outside world that the police detachment guarding the empty hall refused (with threats of arrest) to allow on to the steps of the court building the citizens wishing to attend the hearing. It was only after many requests that the accused's wife and sister were allowed (on account of the severe cold) to await the end of the hearing in the vestibule.

When in June 1978 the Donetsk regional court ordered that the coal miner and labour rights activist, Vladimir Klebanov, be confined to a special psychiatric hospital, neither he nor his relatives were informed in advance of the court hearing.

The most important criticism that can be made of court hearings of such cases is their uncritical attitude towards the psychiatric diagnoses submitted. The psychiatric diagnoses cited below, and others, are at the very least questionable as recommendations for court action. One course of action which is available to courts presented with unclear, incomplete or contested diagnoses is to call for a second psychiatric opinion. This is rarely done, and when courts do ask for a second opinion it is always from officially-appointed psychiatrists, never psychiatrists nominated by the accused or their families. Soviet courts in political cases almost invariably accept not only the findings of forensic psychiatric commissions, but also their recommendations as to what should be done with the accused.

If, as normally happens, the court accepts the psychiatric commission's diagnosis and recommendations, it must then release the accused from criminal responsibility or punishment and order measures that are both conducive to the individual's medical recovery and protective of society.

The court has three options: it may order that the accused be placed in the care of relatives or a guardian; confined for an indefinite period to an ordinary psychiatric hospital; or confined indefinitely to a special psychiatric hospital.

Putting the accused in the care of relatives or a guardian does not entail incarceration. In no known political case has a court exercised this option.

If the court, advised by a forensic psychiatric commission, decides that the accused requires compulsory in-patient medical treatment, it orders that he or she be confined either to an ordinary or a special psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period. According to the RSFSR Criminal Code, ordinary psychiatric hospitals are intended for those who have not committed especially serious crimes; the special institutions are designed for people who 'represent a special danger to society' ...

It has been common for courts to order that dissenters be confined to special psychiatric hospitals in the absence of any record of violence on their part, let alone any effort on the part of psychiatrists or the courts to show that they represented a 'special danger' to other people or to society ...

In some cases courts have ordered that dissenters be sent for forensic psychiatric examination even though forensic psychiatrists had already examined the subject and concluded that he or she was 'accountable'. For example, this happened in March 1979 to Vladislav Bebko, who was charged with 'malicious hooliganism' for tearing down an official poster celebrating the anniversary of the October Revolution and 'anti-Soviet slander' for making 'oral propaganda' and distributing documents of the Czechoslovak human rights group Charter 77. Bebko was subsequently ruled 'accountable' again and sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment for 'anti-Soviet slander'.

Civil procedures for forcible commitment

Under the civil commitment procedure (sometimes referred to as the 'administrative' procedure) people who have not committed criminal offences but who are diagnosed as mentally ill and likely to commit socially dangerous acts may be forcibly confined for treatment on the authority of a psychiatrist and with the subsequent agreement of a commission of three psychiatrists. Those committed under this civil procedure are normally confined in ordinary psychiatric hospitals.
The civil commitment procedure is laid down in a directive ('On Emergency Confinement of Mentally III Persons Who Represent a Social Danger') issued on 26 August 1971 by the Ministry of Health in agreement with the Procurator General and the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs]. The text of this directive is not published in any easily available Soviet publication and it is virtually a secret document.

The directive states that mentally ill people may be confined to a psychiatric hospital without their permission or that of the family if they are an 'evident danger' to themselves or those around them. To guide psychiatric practitioners and law enforcement agencies, the directive lists a number of symptoms which are to serve as criteria for application of this measure. The list has been criticized by human rights activists and foreign psychiatrists because of the obscurity and lack of medical precision of the symptoms listed. The terms used are so broad as to cover almost any dissident or nonconformist behaviour: for example, among the symptoms listed are 'a hypochondriac delusion, causing an abnormal aggressive attitude in the ill person towards individuals, organizations and institutions' and 'a systematic syndrome of delusions with chronic deterioration if it results in behaviour dangerous to society'. The directive does not give even a rough explanation of what is meant by 'social danger'.

As if deliberately to invite the forcible confinement of peaceful citizens, the directive states that any of the enumerated conditions of 'mental illness' ... 'may be accompanied by externally correct behaviour and dissimulation'.

The directive states that emergency confinement may be effected by medical personnel, and that the police must render assistance if there is a 'possibility' that the subject will resist or if he or she shows aggressive behaviour or hides, or if the subject's family refuses or resists his or her being taken away.

The doctor who first orders the person's confinement must submit to the psychiatric hospital a report justifying this, and within one day of being confined the subject must be examined by a commission of three psychiatrists who are to decide whether the forcible confinement was justified and if there is a need for further confinement. The subject must be re-examined by a commission of three psychiatrists at least once a month. The commission must order the subject's release 'upon improvement of the patient's mental condition or such change of the picture of the illness that he is no longer a danger to society'. In discharging a person from confinement, the psychiatric hospital must inform the local psychiatric dispensary at his or her place of residence, and the released person must be placed on a 'special list' and receive 'systematic preventive treatment'.

The directive does not provide for any involvement of a court or other judicial agencies. The regulations do not indicate any right of the confined person to have access to a lawyer; Amnesty International knows of no case where a dissenter confined in this way has been permitted to see a lawyer. The only agency outside the psychiatric service which is given a formal role under these procedures is the police, which is administered by the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs]. In practice, the KGB [Committee of State Security] has in many cases played a major part at various stages between confinement and release.

Dissenters have been forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals in a great variety of circumstances, a common feature being the direct link between the dissenters' exercise of their human rights and the official decision to have them confined to a psychiatric hospital. It is quite common for dissenters to be forcibly confined without having been seen first by a psychiatrist.

Dissenters have been picked up and taken directly to psychiatric hospitals from work, school, home, or off the streets. The abruptness of the procedure is illustrated by the case of Valeria Novodvorskaya, a linguist, who was detained at her place of work in a Moscow library on 24 November 1978, less than a month after she was publicly involved in the formation of an independent trade union group. According to a samizdat account of her detention:

At 5.45 pm on the day of her hospitalization a man came into the room where she was working and asked her to help him take away some books. She took a package of books, went out and did not return. A colleague who was working with her in the same room waited for a long time and then became apprehensive and raised the alarm. After lengthy searching her friends found her in Psychiatric Hospital umber 15 (telephone number 114-53-89).

In a number of instances dissenters have been summoned on some pretext to a hospital, militia headquarters or other public building, where, to their surprise, they were taken to a psychiatrist who had them committed to a psychiatric hospital. For example, in July 1976 Alexander Argentov, a participant in a religious seminar in Moscow which had been labelled 'anti-Soviet' by state security officials, was unexpectedly summoned to a local Military Commission, a body which deals with military conscription. The Military Commission told him that he must report to a district psychiatric clinic to obtain a medical certificate. Although Argentov had never been under psychiatric treatment or observation, the clinic already had a file card about him. Two doctors there questioned him (mainly about his religious views) and had him immediately committed to Moscow Psychiatric Hospital Number 14.

A number of people have been detained and forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals when they brought personal complaints to the highest organs of government. A startling indication of the extent to which this happens came in October 1976, when the Moscow Helsinki monitoring group reported:

Every day the police sends to the duty psychiatrists approximately 12 people from the reception room of the USSR Supreme Soviet alone; besides these, another two or three of those people who try to get into an embassy; still others who are picked up from other places, including directly off the streets. Of these about half are subsequently hospitalized ...

People who are forcibly confined for submitting complaints are commonly diagnosed as suffering from a 'mania for litigation'.

Violations of the regulations laid down in the 1971 directive governing civil confinement have been common. Frequently the relatives of the confined person have not been informed within 24 hours of what has happened, as is required by the directive. Often the subjects have been examined by a psychiatrist only after they were forcibly confined to a psychiatric hospital. In many cases dissenters have not been examined by a psychiatric commission within one day of being detained, as is required by the directive, but only days or weeks later; and in a number of cases confined dissenters have not had any psychiatric examination at all ...


Under both the criminal and civil procedure the psychiatric diagnosis is invariably carried out by officially-appointed psychiatrists. Dissenters have never been able to obtain the appointment of psychiatrists of their own choice to the psychiatric commissions that decide whether or not they should be hospitalized. In a number of cases officially-appointed psychiatrists are known to have concealed their names from the people they were diagnosing.

Vladimir Klebanov, a coal miner, formed an unofficial free trade union in 1978. He was ordered to be forcibly confined in a Soviet special psychiatric hospital by the Donetsk regional court in the Ukraine, despite not being present at the court hearing. Amnesty International does not know if he has been released.

Sergei Purtov, a Leningrad engineer, forcibly confined in a Soviet mental hospital since 1971 for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda." With his brother and six others he had started an unofficial group advocating a return to what they called "pure Leninist principles."

Under both procedures diagnoses are generally perfunctory and even in formal terms are based on inadequate examination of the subject. Dissenters who have been sent under the criminal procedure to the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, officially regarded as the country's leading centre for forensic psychiatric diagnosis, have reported that their diagnosis has consisted of several conversations with a psychiatrist assigned to their case and then a few minutes (as a rule '10 or 15 minutes', according to Alexander Podrabinek) in front of the psychiatric commission whose task it is to establish whether the subjects are accountable and to recommend on the measures to be applied to them. Both in the Serbsky Institute and elsewhere, psychiatrists base their diagnoses almost exclusively on 'subjective' observations (from conversations with the subjects, from visual observation of their behaviour, and from their record) and make little use of objective testing methods. As mentioned above, sometimes dissenters have been confined to psychiatric hospitals under the civil procedure without any psychiatric diagnosis at all.

The following features are common to those cases of confinement of dissenters to psychiatric hospitals mentioned in this report:

(1) In each case the subject had exercised his or her human rights in a manner which was not approved of by the authorities and which has often been punished in other cases by imprisonment under criminal law. The most common forms of behaviour which have been punished by forcible psychiatric confinement have been: expressing views critical of government practices, whether in written or in oral form; submitting to government authorities complaints against government officials; engaging in public demonstrations for purposes disapproved of by the authorities; belonging to unofficial groups informally labelled 'anti-Soviet' or 'illegal' by state security or other government officials; participating in religious activities; making persistent efforts to gain official permission to emigrate from the country; trying to leave the country without official permission. In many cases the forcible psychiatric confinement of the subject took place only after the authorities had tried by other means to deter him or her from engaging in such activities. In many cases it was exactly such exercise of human rights which officially-appointed psychiatrists labelled as symptomatic of mental illness.

(2) Neither the subject nor his or her relatives, friends and sympathizers believed the subject to be in need of forcible in-patient psychiatric treatment. Many prisoners of conscience have been permitted to emigrate after being released from psychiatric hospitals, and have been seen by psychiatrists and other individuals abroad who formed the view that their psychiatric confinement was not justified on medical grounds. Foreign psychiatrists have reached similar conclusions after examining former victims during visits to the USSR. During the period from 1977 to 1979 Dr Alexander Voloshanovich, a Moscow psychiatrist who lent his expert services to the unofficial Working Commission for the Investigation of the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes, gave in-depth psychiatric examinations to 36 dissenters who feared they might be forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals. Most of the 36 had previously been forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals. Dr Voloshanovich concluded that none of them required forcible hospitalization on any grounds nor had they required this in the past.

(3) The subjects were not known to have any record of violence nor did the authorities or the psychiatrists involved demonstrate how they were dangerous to themselves or others.

Yet between mid-1975 and mid-1979 in more than 100 known such cases officially-appointed psychiatrists ruled that dissenters were mentally ill to such a degree that compulsory in-patient psychiatric treatment was necessary.

A simple indication of how psychiatric diagnoses have been used for political persecution is that often when Soviet citizens have associated together in activities, which, though not illegal, were not approved of by the authorities, several of the participants have been officially diagnosed as mentally ill and forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals -- as though the group's participants were mentally ill en masse. The following are cases in point.

In 1971 seven members of an unofficial group advocating Marxist-Leninist views different from those enforced by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were arrested in Leningrad and charged with 'anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda'. Four of them were ruled mentally ill and confined to psychiatric hospitals: Vyacheslav Dzibalov, Sergei Purtov, Andrei Kozlov and Mariya Musiyenko ...

During the mid-1970s two brothers, Alexander and Mikhail Shatravka, were arrested while trying to cross the border into Finland without permission from the Soviet authorities. Both were subsequently ruled mentally ill and ordered confined to special psychiatric hospitals.

In 1976 an entire family of religious believers (both parents and two daughters) were confined to a psychiatric hospital in Byelorussia on account of their religious faith, according to a prisoner of conscience who was himself held there at the time.

In 1974 a group of Russian Orthodox believers in Moscow organized a seminar to discuss religious and philosophical matters. Officials subsequently told participants that the seminar was 'anti-Soviet'. Of at least eight people who have been arrested since 1976 in connection with the seminar, four (Alexander Argentov, Edward Fedotov, Alexander Kuzkin and Alexander Pushkin) were confined to psychiatric hospitals under the civil procedure and another (Sergei Yermolayev) was confined to the Serbsky Institute for diagnosis under the criminal procedure, but subsequently ruled accountable.

A number of workers grouped together in Moscow in 1976 to protest collectively at violations of their labour rights. By early 1978.no less than five of the group's leading members had been confined to psychiatric hospitals: Vladimir Klebanov, Yevgeny Nikolayev, Gavriil Yankov, Gennady Tsvyrko and Varvara Kucherenko ....

Since the early 1970s enough has been known about the nature of diagnoses by officially-appointed psychiatrists in cases of political and religious dissenters to identify a number of common features.

First, such diagnoses usually give only a vague, generalized explanation of the mental illness from which the subject is purportedly suffering and the nature of the symptoms. Professor Andrei Snezhnevsky, Director of the Institute of Psychiatry of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences and, through him, the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow have provided a strong lead for the country's psychiatrists in making such diagnoses. Snezhnevsky's most distinctive contribution to Soviet psychiatry has been his extremely broad definition of schizophrenia, an illness which in his interpretation need not be accompanied by external symptoms even when it is serious enough to justify forcible hospitalization. Schizophrenia, often in its 'sluggish' form, has been the diagnosis most commonly made of dissenters ...

The following are examples of how officially-appointed psychiatrists have characterized the mental illness of dissenters: 'nervous exhaustion brought on by her search for justice' (Nadezhda Gaidar in 1976); 'psychopathic paranoia with overvalued ideas and tendencies to litigation' (Mikhail Zhikharev in 1974); 'schizophrenia with religious delirium' (Alexander Voloshchuk in 1977); 'reformist delusions' or 'reformist ideas' (Yevgeny Nikolayev in 1978); 'psychopathy with tendency to litigation' (Alexander Komarov in 1978); 'delusional ideas of reformism and struggle with the existing social political system in the USSR' (Vladimir Rozhdestvov, 1978); a 'mania for reconstructing society' (Mikhail Kukobaka, 1976).

Another common characteristic of official diagnoses of dissenters is that 'seemingly normal' people have often been labelled 'dangerously mentally ill'. The broad rejection of 'apparent normality' as an obstacle to forcible hospitalization derives authority both from the theories of Professor Snezhnevsky and the Serbsky Institute and from the 1971 directive governing civil commitment to psychiatric hospitals (summarized above) ....

Another feature of official psychiatric diagnoses of dissenters is that they have commonly focused precisely on the subjects' exercise of their human rights as symptomatic of mental illness. When subjects have refused to accept that their behaviour was brought on by mental illness, psychiatrists have often described this as 'lack of criticism'. Typical of this was the case of Pyotr Starchik, who was diagnosed in 1973 as suffering from 'creeping schizophrenia' and confined to a special psychiatric hospital. The symptoms identified by an officially-appointed forensic psychiatric commission included his religious belief and his 'rudeness' to the investigators of his case. After his release in 1975 Starchik, an amateur composer, held concerts of his songs in his Moscow flat which were attended by large audiences. In the summer of 1976 state security officials warned him that if he continued to hold these concerts he would be confined to a psychiatric hospital again. In September 1976 he was forcibly committed to an ordinary psychiatric hospital in Moscow. Reportedly the hospital's admittance journal explained his forcible commitment thus:

S.D. [socially dangerous]. Was an in-patient in the psychiatric hospital in Kazan for compulsory treatment under Article 70. Recently he has been composing songs of anti-Soviet content and has been holding gatherings of 40 or 50 people in his flat. On examination he was well-orientated. There were no major disturbances of his consciousness. His contact was formal. He was suspicious. He answered questions monosyllabically. He does not deny having composed the songs, and said 'I have my own world views'. Lacks critical faculty ...

Another characteristic of the diagnosis of dissenters by officially-appointed psychiatrists is that very often the state security authorities have played a direct role in the decision-making of the psychiatrists, often to the extent of deciding themselves what the diagnosis should be.

One of the many documented illustrations of this comes from the case of Anatoly Ponomaryov, a Leningrad engineer who has been repeatedly confined to psychiatric hospitals throughout the 1970s for his samizdat writings and his open protests to the authorities. When in October 1975 he was forcibly confined for the fourth time, another well-known dissenter, the historian Mikhail Bernstam, accidentally learned of it at once and went to see Dr L.D. Fedoseyeva, the deputy chief doctor of the psychiatric clinic where Ponomaryov had been diagnosed and ordered committed. The psychiatrist told Bernstam that the reason for Ponomaryov's hospitalization was his protest letters, which 'hindered the work of public bodies'. She added that the fact that Ponomaryov's behaviour was 'otherwise normal' did not indicate that he was mentally healthy. Their conversation then took the following turn:

Bernstam: 'What sort of letters were they?'

Dr Fedoseyeva: 'Neither I nor the doctor treating him has read the letters but we know their contents. They are the letters of an ill man. They aren't anti-Soviet but in them he expresses a low opinion of the Soviet government and in general writes cynically about our leaders.'

Bernstam: 'If you haven't read the letters how do you justify Ponomaryov's hospitalization?'

Dr Fedoseyeva: 'We possess the information and an evaluation from the competent authorities.'

Bernstam: 'Which authorities do you mean?'

Dr Fedoseyeva: 'Surely you understand .. .'

Bernstam: 'Nonetheless?'

Dr Fedoseyeva: 'Well, officials of the KGB.'

Bernstam: 'You said the letters were a symptom of an aggravation of the patient's illness. But are KGB officials really competent to make such judgments?'

Dr Fedoseyeva: 'They make a political judgment and phone us, advising us to intern Ponomaryov. For us to make a medical diagnosis it's enough simply to know of the existence of anti-government letters. There's no need to read them.'

Soviet psychiatrists have frequently told the subjects' of their diagnoses: 'Nothing depends on us.'

Published April 1980
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Sun May 08, 2016 11:37 pm


The theme of Prisoners of Conscience Week in 1980 was 'Different Faces of Imprisonment'.


Graciela Geuna and Jorge Cazorla, photographed on their wedding day in Argentina. Within a year the bride had "disappeared" and the bridegroom was dead, shot in the back during a kidnap attack. Graciela Geuna, now living abroad, was a university student in Cordoba when, on 10 June 1976, she and her husband were abducted by 20 armed men in plain clothes -- she later identified them as military personnel. She said that after her husband had been killed she was taken to a military "concentration camp," where, stripped naked and tied hand and foot to bedsprings, she was given electric shocks, kicked and clubbed during 10 days' interrogation. She said she was kept blindfolded for 10 months. After 22 months she was released without charge or trial.

An estimated 15,000 people 'disappear' in one country and, in another, 25,000 people are seized, 'disappear' or are killed ...

In a third country, the wife of an imprisoned nationalist leader lives out another 24 hours of a 'banning' order, the latest of a series that has ruled every day of her life for the past 16 years ...

In a fourth, a trade unionist is detained by the police for the 24th time in two years ...

The vast majority of these people, political prisoners -- the cases of thousands of them documented in detail by AI -- have been subjected to some kind of imprisonment that falls outside the usual sense of the word - that is, confinement in some official place of detention for a specified period.

They are victims of different 'faces' of imprisonment; in these cases: 'disappearance'; 'banning'; house arrest; internal exile; repressive short-term detention.

These are three of the methods used by governments to stifle dissent without resorting to 'classic' imprisonment.

'Disappearance' has become a major tool of governments in several parts of the world -- the practice is best documented in a number of Latin American countries, but AI has information about 'disappearances' in other parts as well, for instance in East Timor, in the Philippines and in Ethiopia.

This repressive tool is used not only against declared political opponents but also against ordinary men and women considered to be a threat of some kind.

In a typical case, the victim is seized, often at home, by armed men and dragged off to an unknown destination. When family or friends make inquiries, the police deny that there has been an arrest. If an attempt is made to have the victim produced before a court, the authorities will assure the judge that the person concerned is not in their custody. They will refuse to acknowledge that the victim has been seized officially -- even though the abduction may have been carried out by uniformed military personnel.

(In cases where abductions are the work of unofficial agents acting in collusion with the authorities the police will refuse to investigate, or else they may fail to inform the family of the results of any inquiries.)

AI has gathered massive evidence on the fate of 'disappeared' people, indicating that the victims are usually tortured and often killed. For instance, it estimates that about 15,000 people have 'disappeared' in Argentina since 1975 (it has documented more than 4,000 cases). The figures for Guatemala are even more shocking: 25,000 people seized, killed or 'disappeared' since 1966 -- more than 1,000 of them in the first six months of 1980.

Under 'banning' and house arrest orders, prisoners of conscience are confined to their own house or town for specified periods. In some countries a form of internal exile is operated, with people being sent to live in a certain part of their country.

Such restrictions are accompanied by other restraints, such as having to report regularly to the authorities and surveillance, searches and interrogations by the police.

In South Africa more than 150 people are now restricted by 'banning' orders under legislation empowering the Minister of Justice to impose a variety of restrictions on people said to be engaged in 'activities which endanger or are calculated to endanger the security of the State or the maintenance of public order'. No specific reasons are given by the Minister; the orders are usually imposed for terms of from two to five years and are often reimposed on expiry.

'Banned' people may not, among other restrictions, be quoted in public or private; they may not prepare material for publication or attend any political or social 'gathering' -- defined as any meeting of more than two people for a common purpose; their movements are restricted, usually to the magisterial district in which they reside.

Many banned people have also been subjected to partial house arrest -- usually from 6.00pm to 6.00am during the week, and from noon on Saturday to 6.00am the following Monday.

In recent years it has also been common for 'banned' people to be banished to remote areas: Winnie Mandela's present five-year 'banning' order was amended shortly after its imposition in 1976 to provide for her banishment to a small town more than 350 kilometres from her home in Soweto.

In Chile, a decree promulgated in February 1980 gave the Minister of the Interior powers to order people to be sent to live in remote areas of the country for terms of internal exile (relegaci6n) of up to three months for disturbing or attempting to disturb public order.

In South Korea the police and the Korean Central Intelligence Agency use house arrest to restrict people who, the government believes, may take part in political activities aimed at expressing their political opinions.

Members of church groups are often house arrested for short periods and the measure is also applied against politicians and the relatives of political prisoners: Lee Hi-ho, wife of the opposition leader Kim Dae-jung -- sentenced to death in September (see October 1980 Newsletter) -- has been under house arrest since 27 May 1980.

Some governments apply executive powers or special legislation to detain opponents for short periods and thus avoid the need to justify their actions before the courts.

The authorities may use such short-term detention to keep dissenters out of circulation at certain 'sensitive' times, but it can also provide the opportunity to extract information under torture, or as part of a general policy of harassment. The victims may be arrested, freed for a short spell then rearrested, a process which can be repeated over a number of years, a continual shuttling in and out of prison.

In Colombia short-term detention has often been widely used during periods of social unrest. Normal judicial controls against arbitrary arrest are dispensed with and prisoners are often held in military centres of detention. There have been numerous allegations of torture by such short-term prisoners.

Under Polish law, a person may be held in custody without formal charges for up to 48 hours. In recent years such short-term detention has been the most common method of intimidation in official attempts to silence human rights activists.

In Pakistan, detaining alleged political prisoners for periods of several weeks or months has been a recurrent practice; since 5 July 1977, it has been carried out under martial law provisions, for 'activities prejudicial to public order' - detainees can be held for an initial period of three months, followed by further three-month periods.

AI Newsletter November 1980


Kazimierz Switon, a founding member of the Committee of Free Trade Unions in Katowice, Poland. In the two years to February 1980 he was detained in police custody 24 times.

Albertina Sisulu, wife of the jailed African nationalist leader Walter Sisulu. She has spent years of her life restricted under 'banning' orders imposed by the South African authorities. A prominent member of the United Democratic Front (UDF), she and 15 other members were arrested in February 1985 and charged with treason. Albertina Sisulu was acquitted in December 1985.
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Sun May 08, 2016 11:39 pm


In the years between 1978 and 1981 nearly 5,000 Guatemalans were seized without warrant and killed. Several hundred others were assassinated after being denounced as 'subversives'. Over 600 who had reportedly been seized by the security services 'disappeared'. The Guatemalan Government laid the blame for these murders and 'disappearances' on independent anti-communist 'death squads'. The 1981 Amnesty International report 'Guatemala: A Government Program of Political Murder' added new evidence that these abuses were in fact carried out by units of the army and the police. Reproduced here are the introduction and the transcript of an interview with a conscript soldier who had served as a member of a plainclothes army unit in Guatemala City.

The human rights issue that dominates all others in the Republic of Guatemala is that people who oppose or are imagined to oppose the government are systematically seized without warrant, tortured and murdered, and that these tortures and murders are part of a deliberate and long-standing program of the Guatemalan Government.

This report contains information, published for the first time, which shows how the selection of targets for detention and murder, and the deployment of official forces for extra-legal operations, can be pin-pointed to secret offices in an annex of Guatemala's National Palace, under the direct control of the President of the Republic.

The report also includes transcripts of two unique interviews; the first is with a peasant who, as far as Amnesty International knows, is the sole survivor of political imprisonment in Guatemala in 1980; the second is with a former conscript soldier who served as a member of a plainclothes army unit and who described the abduction of civilians who were later tortured and murdered.

Between January and November in 1980 alone some 3,000 people described by government representatives as 'subversives' and 'criminals' were either shot on the spot in political assassinations or seized and murdered later; at least 364 others seized in this period have not yet been accounted for.

The Government of Guatemala denies having made a single political arrest or holding a single political prisoner since President Romeo Lucas Garcia took office in July 1978. All abuses are attributed to 'independent' paramilitary groups beyond official control. This report adds to previously available evidence that these actions are carried out by units of the regular security services. No convincing evidence has been produced that the groups described by the authorities do in fact exist.

In the final section of the report, Amnesty International reproduces the interviews, transcribed from tape recordings, with two Guatemalans who have had personal experience with the torture and murder of political suspects by the Guatemalan army.

The former prisoner was abducted on 15 February 1980 by a plainclothes army squad in a village in northern Guatemala. He escaped from Huehuetenango army base in western Guatemala after being held for 11 days.

He gives details of his place of detention -- in the base slaughterhouse -- and of how he was interrogated under torture by Guatemalan army officers.

He describes the execution of three other prisoners in his presence, strangled with a garrotte -- a technique cited as the cause of death in hundreds of killings in 1980, including those of 37 people found in a mass grave in San Juan Comalapa, near Guatemala City, in March 1980.

Guatemalan police arrest demonstrators. Guatemala City, March 1982.

The former conscript soldier, of Kekchi Indian origin, gives an account of his second year of military service, when he served as a member of a plainclothes army unit in Guatemala City. He describes the surveillance of civilians under political suspicion, and the abduction of civilians for interrogation under torture, and then murder, at the Guatemalan army base of the Brigada Militar Mariscal Zavala on the outskirts of Guatemala City.

His testimony is of particular significance as a document of record. Political killings and 'disappearances' involving government forces are not new in Guatemala: in 1976 Amnesty International estimated that about 20,000 people had been victims of these abuses since 1966, when they first began to occur regularly. But although in the past other members of the security services have told of their participation in abductions and killings -- for instance, Lauro Alvarado y Alvarado, a National Police officer, who was later killed in 1975 (see Guatemala: Amnesty International Briefing, 1976, page 15) -- this former conscript's testimony is the most extensive and detailed of its kind and the first by a conscript soldier describing the routine extra-legal security measures of regular army units.

Although the two interviews transcribed in part here were not conducted directly by Amnesty International, they are published as illustrations of the nature of political imprisonment and murder in Guatemala.

The interviews were conducted in February 1980. The transcripts have been edited for length and the names of those involved removed. Their publication was decided only after their authenticity and accuracy had been determined by exhaustive analysis of the two tapes and extensive cross-checking of information. Only indirect communication was possible with the interviewer of the escaped prisoner but the former soldier was interviewed by a journalist from Europe now in close contact with Amnesty International.

The interviewers agreed to the tape transcripts being published by Amnesty International provided that they were edited so that no one could be endangered by their release. Although the escaped prisoner, whose identity is known to the Government of Guatemala, and the former soldier are now reported to be safe outside Guatemala, there is still fear of reprisals by the Government of Guatemala if their identities are publicized.

• A number of anti-government guerilla groups have been operating in Guatemala since 1966 and Amnesty International is aware that there continue to be armed confrontations between government and guerrilla forces, with lives lost on both sides. However, Amnesty International does not accept government assertions that all or most killings of the sort described in this report are the result of armed conflict or are the work of agents operating independently and out of the government's control.

Amnesty International opposes the torture and execution of prisoners in all cases, whether by government forces or opposition groups. It believes that confrontation between government and violent opposition groups cannot be held to justify these human rights violations.

Testimony of a conscript

How long did you serve in the army?

Well, when I joined, well they didn't tell us anything but, when they seized us, they just seized us without letting us, well, talk to our families -- what did it matter to them? That's what they told us then, but when they got us there they said that it was three years, because that's the service that you have to do.

So you have been in the army three years?

Only two years; I was in the army two years.

It is the military commissioners (comisionados militares), isn't it, men in plain clothes but armed, who hunt down the men for the army?

Yes, well, here the commissioners are like that, civilians, they don't carry weapons, just their machetes, but actually clubs too -- big ones.

Does this military commissioner do his work alone, or helped by other soldiers or civilians?

Yes, well before they used to seize people, well more peacefully. They didn't beat them, not a lot that is, but now they do.

Why now?

Because now, now they aren't the only ones who seize the young men for the barracks; the military police do too. They go around with a truck, and anyone they find ... they don't tell them even where they are being taken, if you are carrying some of your things, something like a pack or something, they don't care, if there is room in the truck then they take it in. If they don't like you, they throw it in the' street ...

So, now it isn't just the military commissioners but also the military itself?

Yes. What happens now is that the military commissioners are afraid because really the peasants now know what's going on and what they do now is get together in crowds and if the commissioner dares to seize one of their group, what they do is beat them up, so now this means the commissioners are afraid.

The boys attack the military commissioners?

Yes, this is happening, because as they already know -- just as we do who have already left -- we tell them that the army isn't any good because, because, well, because I've finally discovered the army is nothing, nothing but a school of murderers, so that's what you are dragged into, nothing better than that.

... [a long section concerning recruitment procedures and basic training methods has been eliminated from this transcript for reasons of space.]

... then after we'd gone through all this, we, as soldiers, then we became regular soldiers and we did our service, then they gave us arms, because we could use them, and we went to the firing range to shoot, and so on. By then they were sure that we wouldn't run away ... They sent us to watch banks, plantations, different zones in the capital, at night. Even if it was raining, we went out in the back of a pick-up truck with our machine-guns, we went out to keep an eye on everything, at midnight.

Weren't you afraid that one day an officer might have ordered you to kill someone?

I wasn't afraid. At that time I was full of the ideas they filled me with. I wasn't afraid they might tell me to kill someone. I used to do it because my mentality by then had changed completely -- that's what had happened to me.

You could kill people without any problems?

Yes, without problems. Once they saw that I was really keen and understood the things they had taught me, they took me out of my unit with two others. Afterwards, we didn't stay in the same unit but were instructed separately. They didn't discipline us much then; we had already suffered enough, so they didn't discipline us so much, although the men in the unit did get disciplined.

Then they gave us a little black 'galil' that had only just arrived.

Is that a weapon?

Yes, 'galil'.

It's very sophisticated isn't it?

Army identity check of bus passengers on the Pan American Highway, Guatemala. Buses are frequently checked in this way and suspects taken away by the army.

Yes, it's very new. They said Israel sent them to Guatemala, because it owed Guatemala something and other arms arrived. This one can fire a maximum of 350 shots a minute.

So they gave us this weapon and we were happier because we were better equipped. When these weapons arrived they gave us one each, then stopped giving us the M-l rifles. They collected these and stored them. When they gave us this weapon, they took me out of the unit but the others stayed on.

Then they sent the three of us to the office of the S-2, where we met officers. They stopped cropping our hair, instead they let us look really good. They told us: 'Now you have been selected; you were chosen; you aren't just simple soldiers any more, like those in the unit. If you've got guts you might even become officers', they told us.

They told you that you were better than the others?

Yes, better than the others.

Then, they had already brainwashed you?

Yes, that's what I'm saying, they had already brainwashed me; they had already filled my head with their own ideology, so r felt superior to my fellow soldiers ... What I thought then was that I was superior to everyone because I had managed to reach this position. They gave us separate training and each of us was given a .45 and left full of enthusiasm.

.45, what's that?

It's a weapon only officers use, with eight shots. They gave us one and we went out in civilian clothes. They told us: 'You are going to get orders. You are going out now.' They sent us out on the street in an army car.

That's how we used to go out, as civilians, but to keep an eye on things, especially to control the students, because there [in S-2] we went to different classes where they told us that the students could be guerrillas and that they were the people who cause the disorder on the streets, and that according to the law in the army's constitution, you've got to kill all of these people.

That's what they told us, then we went out in twos and threes to drive around the capital and control things.

Did you have permission to kill anyone?

Only suspicious characters. And they gave us orders of the day. And we also had classes -- we were students just like the suspects! And we could kill them.

And they gave us special identity cards so that if there were any police around, even if there were more of them than us and we did certain things we could just show them these, so they wouldn't seize us and we could get away. That's what they told us. They gave us cards, so that if we made some great mistake - we could kill someone, just like that, and then escape, and the police wouldn't have the power to seize us; we could just show them the cards.

And the police don't do anything?

They don't do anything, nothing. So I realized that the army is a school for murderers, it's as simple as that. They said to me, if you discover your father is in subversive movements -- I didn't understand the word -- 'subversive', they said, is whatever is against the government and is what causes disorder in Guatemala -- if your father is involved in groups like that, kill him, because if you don't he'll try and kill us ...

Could you kill your father or your mother or your sister?

The National Palace in Guatemala City ... Amnesty International's 1981 report published evidence showing that targets for political murder were selected in secret offices in an annex to the main building.

Anyone who turned up, if we were ordered to. I could have done it then, that's how I used to feel, I'd do anything the army told me to. I remember how, when I was in it and we set off to bring in two students -- I say they were students -- I didn't think of fighting, or anything; there was nothing in my mind. So we went to get these students, and we went to get another man who was also a student, at about two in the morning.

And there were others as well as us; there were others who got the job of seeing what time they left school, what time they got back, where they ate, how they dressed and so on. That's what other people did.

But aren't there officers who tell you to investigate what these people do? Do you get the names from officers?

Yes, the officers give us this information - the names and the places.

And you have to check them out?

Yes, that was my job. We went out to find things out; we even talked to a lot of people.

To learn more?

Actually, to watch them; see who they were, and where they were. That was the job we had to do in the streets. We would stay there, and there were always officers travelling around in private cars too, with radios. There might be one in the central park in zone 1, another could be in zone 6, or in zone 7, who were in contact - they could talk directly to each other.

And they wore the uniforms of judicial police? G-2? -- all these people?

Well, they were in plain clothes; in civilian clothes or in actual army uniform. When they set out to attack that man I was telling you about, he said he was just out having a lemonade. I asked the boy about it; he was very young; they brought him in all tied up, they had him well and truly tied up and blindfolded. Only his mouth was uncovered so he could talk. His arms were tied. We were going to move him, they had him ...

You had to transfer him -- did you have to capture this boy?

We had our job to do, but there were other people who had to actually do that job. We just set out to move him from where they had him.

And where did you have to go to see these people?

We took him to the Brigada Mariscal Zavala to hand him over.

An army base [un cuartel]?

Yes, the base. But not actually the barracks; but in Guatemala City in the base there are cells; let's see, there's one cell they call 'the powder magazine' ['el polvorin'], there's another cell they call 'the olive' ['la aceituna], that is where we put him in a locked room. We arrived about two in the morning. They had him all tied up then; his mouth was gagged, and he had a bullet wound here -- he couldn't talk. Then they did whatever they wanted to with him, and later, when we arrived, we just picked him up as if he was an animal, then threw him into the car and that was that. We took him there, sat him down, untied his feet, sat him up again, and next day an officer arrived. He brought a tape-recorder and began to ask: 'What is your profession?'

'What work do you do?' 'Where do you work?' 'Where do you study?' and so on, questioning him.

Were you there all the time?

Yes, because it was my job to be. I was there and so I knew what they did.

Had they tortured this boy?

Well, yes.

Beaten him?

Yes, sure.

Was electrical apparatus also used?

Yes, it was.

You saw it?

Yes, I have seen it -- some things the Model Platoon [Pelotan Modelo] carry about with them which they call 'canes' ['bastones'], with electric batteries - no, they're called 'batons' ['batones] If they touch you with these things, you fall down, you're electrocuted, they, that's what they have.

I mean, I knew this man didn't want to say whether he belonged to a secret organization, or was 'subversive' as they put it, and they began to beat him savagely.

How did you feel then?

When I was there, I felt sorry when I watched them hitting him.

Did you think that boy was a guerrilla?

Yes, yes I did. But I felt sorry for him when they beat him, and he didn't want to say he was one. He said he was accused of being a guerrilla -- but no, what he said was: 'They have accused me of being a guerrilla, but why should they? -- if I was a guerrilla I wouldn't be here'. 'Talk', they said, and began to beat him.

Where did you have to beat this boy?

No, it wasn't me ...

You just watched?

Yes, I watched. They were from G-2; they were the people who beat him, plainclothes army agents.

Are they from the secret service of the army?

Yes, they were. I stood back when they were beating him, because I didn't want to be drawn into it -- I didn't want to join in beating him up. I kept out of the way when I saw they were beating him. Three more men arrived, all trussed up. They tape-recorded everything these men said and as there were a lot of names on that list -- there were countless names on the 'black list', that's what we call it. The people on the list are -- that's the order they gave us -- wherever we find them we just ask their names and if it's them, we kill them.

Did they kill that boy too?

Yes, what they said to him was, if you don't talk, we'll kill you.

But was he killed?

No, I didn't kill him.

No, but did the others kill this boy?

Oh yes, definitely; he confessed: 'I confess everything, everything' -- that he wasn't a guerrilla or anything, but, in any case, they began to beat him, that is to torture him, and they even tried to knock out one of his teeth like this, with a hammer. They hit him with a hammer like this. He screamed. They even smashed his finger. They put it on a piece of iron and hit it with the hammer to make him talk; but he didn't say anything; and so the next day, at about 12 o'clock at night -- though I'm not sure of this - if it was the judicial police, or the G-2 who turned up - there is such a bunch of them, so you couldn't figure out who was who -- who am I for example? If I'm from G-2, you wouldn't tell me anything and I wouldn't tell you anything because this is a security precaution to stop enemies getting control of us. They tell us not to identify ourselves but we have the same idea, the same work. Then at midnight they took those men who were there; they just went and grabbed them by the hair and feet and threw them into a car and took them away -- took them who knows where.

They went off to kill them and then leave them somewhere?

Must have. That's how it's done. Because at that time of the night ... if they were going to set them free they would have done it in the daytime. Why drag them out at that hour of night? So they would have killed them on the road and left them just thrown down anywhere.

Do they always take the people they capture out at night-time?

Yes, they go out ...

Always at night?


Never in daylight?

No, only at night, at the quietest time of night.

In official or private cars?

Private ... what they use mostly are those cars -- vans -- like station-wagons, with darkened windows -- cars you'd never imagine had killers in them -- though they can be in any car.

But where do they capture and kill the people? In the countryside? In the towns?

In the towns. Like the students that 'disappear'. It's definitely them that do it and they come and take them away at night, they seize them at night and kill them just like that; then they turn up just dumped anywhere.

But what have you done in the little towns and in the countryside? Have you gone out in trucks? And did you have to do house-to-house searches, or what?

Yes, when we were there, it was pretty much like that. We'd go off in a truck; we'd get to the place we had to search, yes, search and so forth; I mean if there were any people there who were, well, suspicious characters. What we kept an eye on was mostly the organizations where a lot of people get together - and there are guerrillas there too. So that's what we would go off to deal with. They'd take us in a truck. In the villages which cars can't get to, we'd walk and then search the houses just like that. Simple.

You searched from house to house?

In ... where they killed ... where we went, about 20 of us went through all the houses to see if we couldn't find any papers, the ones they'd told us about.

When we found a paper in a house, we took the family out, and if there was just one person we killed him. And that's what happened. We arrived in a car, left it far away then walked on. And they told us not to be afraid and if we found the papers to kill those people, and that's the way it was -- but we didn't find any papers, so we didn't do anything ...

You could have killed anyone?

Anyone who was a suspicious character.

And has your unit killed too?

Well, yes -- the others did.

Yes, the people you find when you search like that you kill. And if they are not killed then, you just leave them and note things down. You get to know them really well, and in order not to commit these crimes at that moment, you jot down the name of the house and such like, so that they can secretly order another commission to 'bring them to justice', [ajusticiar]. That's what you do, that's what we all do -- I mean, get the name of the young man, the father and so on; find out what work he does, where he works etc. The reports these commissions make are sent into the offices, such and such an office, circulated in such and such a way. The people there are in charge of finding a commission and secretly giving it its orders. Only they know where it's gone and what it's going to do. This is all done by Army G-2 - that's the way they work.

And the reason I'm telling you this is because I was there. These killers come from the actual army. They told us I wasn't guilty of anything, because they told us: 'You yourselves are going out to kill and because you've got your cards, you can kill the people on your list. If a policeman turns up, show him your gun like this and your card in this hand, then they won't seize you' -- that's what they said.

So what I mean is, you kill, then you return; you get dressed. You've maybe committed these crimes in army uniform; if so, they tell you to get out of those clothes fast and put on civilian clothes or police clothes then go out and look for whoever killed the person.

But how are we supposed to find them if it was us that did it in the first place? How can we go out and find them? They have this fantastic idea [idea magical and -- this is what's going on right now today in Guatemala.'

They say 'unknown persons' killed the student and that today they are being sought by the police; but how can they find them if the people who did it are the people going out to do the searching? This is what the army is up to.

The soldiers can kill people when they have orders to, but can they kill people without orders, just because someone is a suspicious character?

Yes, certainly, any of us can be ordered to kill any man like that, who is a suspicious character. Yes, we have got the right to kill him, and even more so if we have been given strict orders to. Yes, we have the right to commit these offences.

What did the officers say?

Well, they say that if we don't carry out all the orders that they give us, if we disobey, instead of them dying, they will kill us, so you have to be very careful about all this.

Published February 1981
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2016 3:21 am


The professions, trade unions and other groups in the community with special interests, skills or influence are frequently approached by Amnesty International for support in its work. One such special sector is organized into medical groups. In some countries medical groups help organize campaigns on behalf of prisoners in poor health and examine and treat victims of torture and ex-prisoners in need of medical care. Their voice may carry particular weight in appeals directed at other medical personnel, as this news release urging United States doctors not to take part in execution by lethal injection shows.

Prominent doctors in several countries have appealed to Oklahoma doctors to refuse to take part in the proposed first-ever execution by lethal injection in the US, Amnesty International said today (Wednesday 23 September 1981).

Thomas 'Sonny' Hays, convicted of murder in 1977, has been condemned to die by the new method. He was granted a 30-day postponement on 9 September while legal argument on his case continues.

Two telegrams were sent to the Oklahoma Medical Association -- one from 11 internationally renowned doctors in France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and the other from the Medical Advisory Board of Amnesty International, the worldwide human rights movement. Both declared that participation by doctors in executions would be a violation of medical ethics.

Of some 850 people under sentence of death in the US, nearly 180 face execution by lethal injection under new laws in four states: Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho and New Mexico.

Among the internationally known figures who signed one of the appeals were two Nobel Prize winners from France, Dr Andre Lwoff and Professor Francois Jacob; the former chairman of the British Medical Association's Ethics Committee, Dr R.E.W Fisher; and the former president of the World Medical Association, Dr Justus Imfeld of Switzerland.

Their message emphasized that medical ethics 'enjoin doctors to practise for the good of their patients and never to do harm'.

The other appeal, from the Medical Advisory Board of Amnesty International, pointed out that the regulations laid out in Oklahoma for the new method require a doctor to determine that poison flows into the prisoner's veins and to decide when death has occurred so that the execution can stop. These tasks should not be undertaken by any doctor, the appeal said. The Board also noted that the American Medical Association had declared that doctors should not participate in executions. The Advisory Board is made up of doctors from Canada, Denmark, Sweden and France.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty under all circumstances. A representative of the movement said today that there was a danger that execution by injection might be wrongly presented as 'humane', diverting attention from the agony suffered by prisoner and family.

Amnesty International, which has proposed that the US set up a commission to examine the effects of the death penalty, has repeatedly pointed out that the penalty has never been shown to have any special value as a deterrent to crime.

News release 23 September 1981
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2016 3:23 am


'The writer and human rights' was the theme of a four-day international writers' congress in Toronto, Canada, in October 1981. Two of its aims were to reaffirm the principle of universal respect for human rights and to draw attention to the plight of imprisoned writers -- many of them adopted as prisoners of conscience -- and campaign for their release. Amnesty International's Secretary General addressed writers who had gathered from all over the world.

Vaclav Havel, a Czechoslovak playwright sentenced to four and a half years' imprisonment in October 1979. He was one of a group of people belonging to the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted -- known as VONS -- arrested in May 1979 for preparing and circulating information about people they considered to be unjustly persecuted. Vaclav Havel was released from prison in February 1983 on health grounds, 10 months before the expiry of his sentence.

Writers have a specific role in the defence of human rights and the fact that so many of them are prisoners of conscience in countries around the world shows that they are willing to accept their responsibility to speak on behalf of those who cannot.

One of their tasks is to counter the systematic propaganda warfare waged by governments concerned about their image and disturbed by reports of torture in their countries that are flashed around the world.

The propaganda campaigns by such governments take many forms. For instance, the measures adopted by the South African Government have included taking over newspapers at home and abroad, bribing politicians and publishing a 'smear' book called Amnesty for Terrorism -- this was after AI had published a report on political imprisonment in South Africa.

We know also that other governments are investing money to 'correct' their international reputation and there are international 'markets' where governments can trade principles for nuclear power plants, arms, wheat or oil.

The more such cynicism pervades the world the more important becomes the role of writers and journalists. It is not by chance that so many of the prisoners of conscience for whom AI works are writers and journalists: one single poem, one article or book can open eyes closed by millions of dollars' worth of propaganda.

Some of them are imprisoned because they tried to publish their works independently, defying state censorship. Some are in jail for their unpublished manuscripts, which have been confiscated or destroyed. Some have become victims because they tried to tell others of their prison experiences. Other writers have joined the struggle for human rights in their country and been arrested for that. There are those who have written about the fundamental social and political problems faced by their nations - and been convicted of conducting 'propaganda against the state'. Some have joined opposition political parties or banned organizations. Some have been in the forefront of the resistance to repression, continuing their struggle under successive regimes, and finally paying for their convictions with their lives.

The purpose of shackling the writer is to create silence. But words can be stronger than chains. When the Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Tur was sent to the isolated island of Bum in the late 1960s he was at first denied pen and paper. By the time he was eventually released some 12 years later in 1979 he had begun compiling the stories he had composed and related to his fellow prisoners in the evenings. Two volumes of these stories have now been published, but in May this year Indonesia's Attorney-General banned their further circulation.

When the Venezuelan poet Ali Lameda was released in 1974 after six years' imprisonment in North Korea, he told a journalist: 'They killed everything except my memory'. By this, he meant the more than 300 sonnets and 400 other poems he had composed mentally -- without benefit of either pen or paper. It was an extraordinary feat, described by a Latin American critic as 'a gigantic creative effort in a world of horror and misery'.

These images of the poet in prison call to mind the words of the Russian imagist poet Akhmatova describing the 17 months she spent in the prison lines in Leningrad under Stalin: 'Once someone, somehow recognized me. Then a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold ... woke from the stupor that enveloped us and asked me, whispering in my ear (for we spoke only in whispers): 'Could you describe this?' I said, 'I can.' Then something like a smile glided over what had once been her face.'

We deal with that world of whispers and desperate messages, where names and snatches of verse are scratched on prison walls, where lives are risked to pass on news to the outside world.

Out of Libertad Prison in Uruguay some time ago came a tiny collection of poems smuggled out on cigarette papers. Among them, this one:

You should see
the contradictions
in the army.
You should have heard
the arguments between
the sub-lieutenant and the captain
while they were torturing me.

There were no names, no signatures on the poems. In a real sense, they were prison poems.

When AI was asked by the organizers of this conference if it could supply a list of all writers in prison throughout the world, the answer was that it could not. Secrecy and censorship make any complete tally impossible. AI did compile a small selection of cases that could stand as symbols for all others, both the known and the unknown. The range, even in this handful of examples, illustrates the fact that we are dealing with an issue that crosses the demarcations of ideology and government.

• Ahmed Fu'ad Negm, of Egypt, well known throughout the Arab world for his colloquial poetry, is currently serving a sentence of one year's imprisonment in Cairo. His poems frequently describe social or political injustice and many are set to music and sung by the blind musician Sheikh Imam. Both have been imprisoned several times for their songs.

• Jorge Mario Soza Egana, a 55-year-old Chilean poet and short story writer, was sentenced in August 1980 to four years' internal exile in Freirina, a small town in the semi-desert region of northern Chile. He is unable to find work there and has had to build himself a small shack to live in. He is reported to have been tortured after his arrest in May 1980 and was charged under a law prohibiting 'Marxist' organizations.

• Yang Ching-Chu, a writer from the Republic of China (Taiwan), is serving a prison sentence of four years and two months, imposed after he had taken part in a demonstration in December 1979 to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the time he was on the editorial committee of the opposition magazine Formosa.

• Haroldo Conti, the Argentinian novelist and short story writer, was dragged out of his home by a group of armed men on 5 May 1976 and then 'disappeared'. Although his detention was never officially acknowledged, a released prisoner has testified to seeing him in a secret detention centre in Argentina.

• Don Mattera, the South African poet, is currently restricted under a second five-year banning order. Ebenezer Maqina, author of The Trial, is also banned and prevented from writing for publication.

• Armando Valladares, the Cuban poet who has been paralysed in his legs for several years, is still serving a 3D-year prison sentence. Earlier this year he is reported to have been attacked by guards and security officers in the prison hospital and beaten unconscious.

These imprisonments violate agreed international standards. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.' The same right is spelled out in Article 19:2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This means that the right of freedom of expression is part of international law. But this has not prevented governments from arresting writers who have done no more than to speak up, or even from introducing laws which by themselves make a mockery of the right of expression. Criticism is branded as 'subversion' or 'anti-state propaganda', sympathy for a minority group as an 'attempt to divide the nation'.

Several prisoners of conscience have been incarcerated just for their attempts to discuss such hypocrisy, for their work for real human rights. In many cases they are not recognized as authors or journalists by the 'establishment' in their home countries.

The forces that threaten to stifle creativity and freedom of expression are real and are continually claiming their victims. We must have the courage to work through our differences and manifest our solidarity with those who are being silenced. There is a great deal we can do, confident that, in the words of the writer Georgi Vladimov, 'All attempts to control literature will inevitably be as unsuccessful as projects for perpetual motion machines'.

AI Newsletter 1981
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2016 3:25 am



When Amnesty International learns about detainees threatened with torture it has a rapid response: the urgent action. Information is sent from the International Secretariat to urgent action coordinators in different countries: they then notify a network of volunteers who are ready to send immediate appeals in emergency cases. Initially set up to response to cases in which torture was anticipated, urgent actions are now sent in other areas where immediate action is required including those where individuals are about to be executed and those where urgent medical treatment is needed. This urgent action was initiated for a detainee in Zaire.

URGENT ACTION: amnesty international
International Secretariat, 10 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HF, England

Amnesty International opposes by all appropriate means the imposition and infliction of death penalties and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners or other detained or restricted persons whether or not they have used or advocated violence. (Amnesty International Statute, Article I(c))

EXTERNAL (for general distribution
UA 248/81
AI Index: AFR 62/31/81
Distr: UA

13 October 1981

Fear of Torture/Legal Concern

Kapokela Sango, probably aged 20-25, was resident in Abumbe village in Zaire's eastern Kivu region (collectivite de Tanganyika, zone de Fizi, sous-region de Sud-Kivu). He was arrested in Adumbe by the security police (Centre national de recherches et d'investigations -- CNRI) on 23 September 1981 and was taken to a detention centre in Uvira. His uncle and aunt tried to visit him there but were also arrested.

After being transferred to a cell in Mulimbi military camp in Uvira, Kapokela Sango is reported to have been transferred to an unknown destination. After being arrested and transferred in similar circumstances last March, two young men were subsequently found dead with bullets through their heads. Sud-Kivu sub-region is an "operational zone", so it is possible that Kapokela may be held without charge or trial for an indefinite period. There is a serious likelihood that he is being tortured and a possibility that he may be killed. He was apparently arrested because he was known to be critical of the government and was consequently suspected of links with armed rebels active in Sud-Kivu.

AI has been concerned about human rights violations in Zaire for many years. The security forces in the country in general and in Sud-Kivu sub-region in particular have extensive powers to arrest suspects and to hold them incommunicado without charge. In these circumstances detainees are frequently ill-treated and have in several instances this year been killed while in detention.


Telegrams/express letters in French if possible, otherwise in English (orDutch) asking for an urgent assurance that Citoyen Kapokela Sango is being treated in accordance with internationally recognized standards and that he has not been subjected to ill-treatment. Also inquire why he was arrested, whether he has been charged and where he is held. In all letters explain that he was arrested on 23 September at Abumbe village in Fizi zone in Kivu region (dans la zone de Fizi, region du Kivu).

LAWYERS are urged to write in their professional capacity to Citoyen Yoka Mangono, who was until recently President of the Kinshasa Bar Association.
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2016 3:28 am


In December 1981 Amnesty International launched a worldwide campaign to expose and halt the use by governments of 'disappearances' as a means of eliminating suspected opponents. Many of the victims were feared dead, but the special mark of 'disappearance' as a tool of repression is that people remain unaccounted for, missing without trace, and that government officials claim to have no knowledge of them. Families are left in permanent uncertainty. As part of the campaign Amnesty International focussed on 67 missing children in Argentina -- some 'disappeared' with their parents after raids by security forces, others borne by women in detention pregnant at the time of their abduction.

After searching for her two little granddaughters for two and a half years, Maria Laura Iribar de Jotar finally traced them during a visit to a juvenile court in the province of Buenos Aires -- just as adoption formalities were being completed with the family who had been looking after them.

That was in March 1980. The grandmother had last seen the children -- Tatiana, then aged four years, and Laura, then two months -- together with their parents on 17 October 1977, the day they had 'disappeared', victims of the Argentine armed forces' policy of secret kidnappings.

A week after their parents' 'disappearance' Tatiana and Laura had apparently been found crying in the street. Although Tatiana was able to give her name, she and her sister were registered in separate orphanages as 'NN' -- name unknown. No attempt was made to locate the family.

In 1978 the pair went to live with the married couple that eventually adopted them -- but it was not until 19 March 1980 that their grandmother could be certain they were still alive.

Now she is allowed to visit her grandchildren. Their parents, Mirta Graciela Britos and Alberto Javier Jotar, are still on the lists of the 'disappeared'.

For other grandmothers in Argentina the search continues -- for grandchildren whom they too last saw before the parents were abducted by the security forces, and for others they have never seen ... because the children were born in secret detention centres during their mothers' captivity.

At least 53 pregnant women are known to have been detained since the military coup of 1976 in Argentina - and at least 14 small children were seized with their parents.

According to AI's information, only one of the parents detained with their children has ever been seen again: Sara Mendez, an Uruguayan citizen, whose 20-day-old baby, Simon, was snatched from her soon after she was arrested at her flat in Buenos Aires on 13 July 1976. Transferred to Uruguay with over 60 other Uruguayans arrested that year in Argentina, she reappeared in the women's prison of Punta Rieles. When the then British Ambassador visited the prison in 1977, she appealed to him to find her baby. But, like other children, Simon had 'disappeared'. (AI learned in mid-October that Sara Mendez had been released in March 1981.)

Grandparents believe that most of these missing children have been placed for adoption, often with military families. In desperation, some relatives have placed newspaper advertisements appealing for news of missing babies.

The mothers of a young married couple, Roberto and Patricia Toranzo, placed this advertisement in the daily La Nacion:

'It is over a year since our children failed to return home. Our denunciations have been shelved. Our court appeals refused. Our children are hardworking and studious. She is a teacher, he is a technician and engineering student .... Patricia was expecting a child ...

Tatiana Ruarte Britos was four when she and her two-months-old half sister Laura were found crying in the street after being abducted with their parents in October 1977. Their grandmother's long search for them ended in March 1980 -- just as they were being adopted. Tatiana and Laura are still with their adoptive parents but are in contact with their real family.

Stella Maris Montesano was seven months' pregnant when she and her husband were abducted from their home in La Plata in October 1976. She reportedly gave birth in detention.

Astrid Patino Caravelle was three when she and her mother Gabriella were abuducted in Cordoba in April 1976. She was located in January 1984, and is now in touch with her real family.

Mariana Zaffaroni Islas was 18 months old when she "disappeared" after security forces raided the Buenos Aires home of her parents. Uruguayan exiles, in September 1976. A child fitting Mariana's description was located in 1984 living with a member of the State Intelligence Service, who had registered her as his own child. In September 1984 a court order was issued prohibiting the family from leaving Argentina.

Jorgelina Planas was three and a half when her mother Christina was abducted in May 1977. She was handed over to the children's court in Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires province, but later taken away by an air force officer and allegedly given to a family for adoption. A girl fitting Jorgelina's description has been located living with a member of the Air Force.

Clara Anahi Mariani was three months old when she "disappeared" after security forces raided her parents' home in La Plata in November 1976. Her mother was killed. A child fitting her description was located, and a judge has ordered blood tests.

Liliana Irma Ross de Rossetti was five months' pregnant when she was abducted in the city of La Plata on 10 December 1976. Her family has established that she was taken to Olmos Prison Hospital (for ordinary criminal prisoners), where she gave birth to twins in April 1977. On 17 May she was removed from Olmos in one car and the twins were taken away in another. The family does not know where any of them are. Twin boys fitting the Rossetti brothers' description were located in 1985 living as the natural sons of a federal police officer. Blood tests were ordered by a judge but the police officer failed to appear and the family has gone into hiding.

The Escuela de Mecanica de la Armada (ESMA), the principal naval training college in Buenos Aires, which has been used as a detention centre for abducted prisoners.

'We want to know where it is. What has been done with it? How is it being brought up? What future is reserved for it?'

'The fact that a woman prisoner was pregnant never led to her getting any sort of consideration under torture. Those who did not lose their babies on the torture tables, having survived the interrogation stage, were thrown into the cells under the same conditions as the rest ... When their pregnancy was very advanced, they were admitted to the infirmary and were given a little more food. They were given a layette for the baby, stolen in other operations. When there were only a few days left before the delivery, they said that they were taking them away to the Military Hospital.' From testimony on secret detention camps given to AI by two former prisoners.

'One day while I was washing plates, they took me to wash diapers and rubber pants ... I realized that there were children on the other side from where we were. At that time I heard the voices of children of about four years of age, asking why their parents had those things [hoods] on their heads. I asked the guard how it was possible for children to be there. He said ... they had been brought with their parents because there was no place to leave them. However, they were going to be taken away the next day.' From testimony of Estela Cornalea de Falicoff to the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights, published April 1980.

But the appeals, the pilgrimages to children's homes, to hospitals, to the courts, to government offices, to the military authorities, to the police stations, to the Church, have all failed to find the lost children.

The Jotar-Britos children are among the exceptions. Another case occurred in June 1979, when a Chilean social worker visiting Venezuela recognized a magazine photograph of a missing Uruguayan brother and sister.

Nearly three years earlier, the boy, then aged four, and his 18-month-old sister had been found abandoned in Valparaiso, Chile, and taken into care. They were later adopted by a dentist and his wife.

The children are Anatole and Victoria Julien, who 'disappeared' with their parents when security forces invaded their home in Buenos Aires on 26 September 1976. They had been taken across the border and left in Chile. They have now been reunited with their grandparents.

The great majority of grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters, have searched in vain. They must endure the agony of knowing that perhaps not far away, cut off not only from their parents but from all their family links, these children are being brought up with new identities. Some may have been left in orphanages, either official or clandestine. Others may have been adopted by families who do not know their background, and many may have been taken by military families who know very well who their parents were.

AI Newsletter November 1981
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Re: Voices for Freedom: An Amnesty International Anthology

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2016 5:03 am


In July 1977 the military administration of General Zia ul-Haq took power in Pakistan and imposed martial law, suspending many fundamental human rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed in 1979 after a controversial trial and appeals process. Amnesty International noted a steady deterioration in the human rights situation and in early 1982 it published 'Pakistan: Human rights violations and the decline of the rule of law' from which this extract is taken.

Nearly all political prisoners are held under martial law provisions.

Detention without trial

The government has wide powers of preventive detention both under Martial Law Order 78 of 26 May 1980, and under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance. Martial Law Order 27 limits the period of detention to 12 months. The martial law orders allow detention without trial on vaguely defined grounds: 'for the purpose of preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the purpose for which martial law has been proclaimed or to the security of Pakistan, or any part thereof, the maintenance of peaceful conditions in any part of Pakistan or the efficient conduct of martial law.'

Martial Law Order 78 incorporated Martial Law Order 12 of 1977, but removed the obligation to inform the detainee of the grounds for detention. Under Martial Law Order 78 the grounds for detention 'shall not be communicated to the detainee'. The civilian courts had previously set aside many political detention orders: for example on 11 December 1979 the Lahore High Court declared the detention of 13 people under Martial Law Order 12 'unlawful' and ordered their immediate release. The court found 'the material pertaining to the detention ... insufficient', (Dawn, 12 December 1979). However such scrutiny of executive action is no longer allowed under the PCO [Provisional Constitution Order 1981].

Amnesty International believes the provisions of Martial Law Order 78 are used arbitrarily and on a large scale to detain non-violent critics of the government. Detention orders are usually renewed every three months, but Amnesty International knows of several people detained for far longer than the maximum of 12 months allowed by the legislation.

Many hundreds of political party members have been detained without trial in recent years for long periods. Among them are Begum Nusrat Bhutto, the wife of the late Prime Minister, who succeeded him as leader of the PPP [Pakistan People's Party]. By July 1981 she had spent 26 of the preceding 41 months in detention under martial law provisions; her daughter Benazir had been detained for 24 months during the same period. The leader of the Tehrik-i-Istiqlal, Air Marshal (Retired) Asghar Khan, has been detained a number of times under both the present and previous administrations. His period of detention since 29 May 1980 greatly exceeds the maximum 12 months officially allowed under Martial Law Order 27. All three are among the prisoners of conscience adopted by Amnesty International.

Political activities banned

Political prisoners are often tried by military courts, particularly under regulations banning ordinary political activity and criticism of the armed forces:

• Martial Law Regulation 13 states: 'No person shall, by word, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise, bring or attempt to bring into hatred or contempt or excite or attempt to excite disaffection towards the Armed Forces or any members thereof.' (Maximum punishment: five years' imprisonment and 10 lashes.)

• Martial Law Regulation 33 states: 'No person shall in any manner whatsoever directly or indirectly indulge or participate in political activity', the definition of which includes: 'A. Organizing any political party, canvassing or campaigning in public or in private, or propagating the cause of any political party or any politicians by words, either spoken or written, or by sign or by visible representation or in any other manner or at any place whatsoever.'

'D. Arranging, attending or joining any procession of a political nature.'

'2. (e) making, printing, producing, publishing or distributing directly or indirectly any matter ... connected with ... furthering the cause of any political party, politician or candidate . .. or is likely to cause sensation or misunderstanding amongst the people or which is prejudicial to the precepts of Islam or the Ideology or integrity or security of Pakistan or public peace or the national interest or which tends or is likely to cause disaffection towards the Martial Law Administration .. .' (Maximum punishment: seven years' imprisonment, 20 lashes and a fine.)

Political prisoners are often tried for printing political literature, taking part in political processions or undertaking other peaceful political activity, under Martial Law Regulations 4, 5 and 18.

• Martial Law Regulation 4 states:

'1. No person shall publish, print, circulate, or cause to be published, printed, or circulated or otherwise be in possession of any pamphlet, poster or publication or any type of literature calculated to promote or attempt to promote feeling or enmity or hatred between different provinces, classes, sects, or religious orders.' (Maximum punishment: 10 years' imprisonment and 30 lashes.)

• Martial Law Regulation 5 states:

'1. No person shall organize or convene or attend any meeting, not being a religious congregation, in an open public place, or organize or take out a procession, not being a religious funeral or marriage procession, without the prior written permission of the Martial Law Administrator concerned.' (Maximum punishment: seven years' imprisonment, fine and 10 lashes.)

• Martial Law Regulation 18 prohibits a wide spectrum of political activities. Article 3 reads:

'3. No political party or person shall, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise, propagate any opinion, or act in a manner prejudicial to the ideology or the integrity or the security of Pakistan, or prejudicial to the purpose for which Martial Law has been proclaimed.' Maximum punishment: seven years' imprisonment, fine and 10 lashes.)

Although Martial Law Regulation 23 of 19 September 1977 states that trade union activity is allowed, the regulation bans all 'strikes and lock-outs'. Martial Law Regulation 51 of 14 June 1981 forbids 'agitational activity' by people 'in government service' and 'in corporation service' in widely defined terms: anyone engaging in activity 'which is intended or is likely to impair the normal functioning or efficiency of any department or office of the government' including 'causing or inciting of strikes or slow movements' may be dealt with 'in a summary way or his case may be referred to a military court for trial'. (Maximum punishment: five years' imprisonment and five lashes.) On 16 August 1981 the government banned all trade union activity in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and the penalty for disobeying was put at a maximum of five years' imprisonment and five lashes under Martial Law Regulation 52.

The terms of these martial law regulations are so wide that any form of political activity or criticism of the government can be punished by imprisonment and flogging after a summary trial. Most political prisoners are sentenced to imprisonment of up to 12 months, and some are also flogged. Longer terms of imprisonment have been imposed. For example, Aslam Saghir, the driver of Dr Zafar Niazi, (a prominent PPP member and former dentist to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto), was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on 29 January 1981 for helping deliver political pamphlets. He was sentenced under Martial Law Regulations 13 and 33 and has been adopted as a prisoner of conscience.

Military courts

With very few exceptions, political prisoners are tried by military courts. These courts are not only empowered to try military personnel, they may also try civilians for many martial law offences, including those banning political activity.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution (Second Amendment) Order 1979 they can also try offences under the Pakistan Penal Code, previously the exclusive jurisdiction of the civil courts. Martial law authorities decide whether a case is to be heard by a military tribunal or a civilian court. Only military courts try cases of treason, sedition, 'prejudicial activity' and 'seducing members of the Armed Forces', (Martial Law Order 77).

Summary Military Courts

Summary military courts consist of one member who need not be a member of the Bar. The accused can address the court and cross-examine witnesses, but only a summary of the evidence need be taken down. The defendant has no right to be represented by a lawyer, and although the accused may be assisted, this person cannot address the court directly. These courts can impose up to one year's imprisonment and 15 lashes. In most cases the maximum period of imprisonment is imposed. No appeal is allowed, but there is provision for review by the Zonal Martial Law Administrator.

Special Military Courts

Special military courts consist of three people, one a magistrate, the other two career army officers of the rank of Major or Lieutenant-Colonel. Amnesty International understands that the army officers do not need to have any legal training. The courts may try all martial law and penal code offences and impose all punishments, including the death penalty and amputation of a hand; executions or amputations have to be confirmed by the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Only a summary of the evidence need be recorded and, if necessary, 'may be dispensed with in a case and in lieu thereof an abstract of evidence may be recorded'. (Martial Law Order 5, 11 July 1977). Cross-examination of witnesses is allowed. Amnesty International has been told that decisions are recorded on printed forms under the heading 'guilty or not guilty', and that this is sufficient to constitute a judgment. There is no requirement to give a reasoned judgment in writing, even in cases involving the death penalty.

Any question relating to the jurisdiction of the military courts or the legality of their actions must be referred to the Chief Martial Law Administrator, whose decision is final. Under martial law there is no provision for judicial review of the legality of decisions taken by the martial law authorities by any court of law in Pakistan.

During a mission to Pakistan in January 1978 Amnesty International delegates were able to attend a hearing before a summary military court. In July 1980 the secretary of the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, a unit of the International Commission of Jurists, requested permission to attend such a trial. Permission was refused by the provincial authorities even though proceedings are in principle open to the public (CIJL Bulletin, No. 6, October 1980).

Amnesty International has received disturbing accounts of the way these military tribunals try political prisoners. The Baluchistan High Court in a judgment of 2 July 1980 quoted the case of a student who was accused of having participated in an illegal procession, a case referred to it by former Attorney General Yahya Bakhtiar. At his trial no witness named the student, nor did any identity him. 'But the Presiding Officer was helpless. He told the accused student that although the evidence did not indicate his guilt he could not do anything as the higher authorities sent down direction that he was to be sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment' (imprisonment with hard labour). The Baluchistan High Court observed: 'This quality of justice is being tried to be provided in preference to the existing courts, and with such sanctity that the judgment of military courts and tribunals are being sought to be kept above the judicial scrutiny of the superior courts. Such a step is not likely to promote the good of the people.' (NLR 1980 Civil Quetta, page 889).

This case illustrates the miscarriages of justice which are likely to occur when basic legal safeguards are suspended. Of particular concern are

• the summary recording of evidence,

• the denial of the right to be represented by a lawyer,

• the absence of the right to appeal to a court of law,

 • the fact that judges are career army officers who are part of the Executive,

• the removal of the requirement to give a reasoned judgment in writing.

Trials before military courts therefore fall far short of international standards to ensure a fair and open trial. This is particularly disturbing as the military courts are widely used to punish peaceful dissent, and often hand down severe punishments, including the death penalty.

This man was convicted by a military court in October 1979. He was sentenced to 15 lashes and one year's imprisonment for committing "immoral acts." A crowd estimated at 10,000 witnessed his punishment, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Published February 1982





These clandestine photographs were smuggled out of the Bialoleka detention camp near Warsaw in late May 1982, some seven months after the declaration of martial law in Poland and the crackdown on the independent trade union Solidarity. Many Solidarity activists were detained here.
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