‘She’s blown the cover off of one of the
gravest violations of human rights’
The impact Amrit Singh made with her report has
been incredible, discovers Chaya Babu.
Afew months ago, the Open Society Justice Initiativepublishedareport,Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary
The document, based on years of writing, research,
and data collection from around the world, made public, in detail, the treatment of the 136 known victims of
government-sanctioned torture post 9/11 and how the
United States government enlisted 54 countries to participate.
Following the release of the report, there was an
explosion in the media world — 57 countries’ press covered the story — about the revelations of the global torture network and its outrageous violations of international human rights law — all put forth by India-born
Singh’s role in exposing these abuses of government
power is tremendous. She spent years acquiring and
meticulously combing through official records that
show how, starting with the Bush Administration,
America got foreign governments to comply, in a range
of ways, with systematic abuse of terror suspects.
Vanita Gupta, Singh’s friend and colleague in the field
of human rights law, spoke of the unprecedented impact
of the OSJI report, relating Singh’s commitment to justice to its international influence.
“She’s somebody who just has a very strong moral
compass around her quest for justice, transparency and
accountability,” Gupta told India Abroad.
“This is a very difficult area to be trying to do docu-
mentation in; it’s an area where there is tremendous
government secrecy, and it’s also an area where govern-
ments have felt very justified in kind of maintaining
secrecy. So, she’s kind of managed to, both in the United
States and all over the world, blow the cover off of one of
the gravest violations of human rights. Her impact has
been incredible for that reason.”
Singh told HuffPost Live’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin that
the dirty work was essentially farmed out to black sites,
‘The whole point of secret detention and extraordinary ren-
dition was to insulate the CIA from any kind of accounta-
bility and review, and that’s why these operations were con-
ducted outside the territory of the United States. And that’s
why these secret CIA prisons were in countries like Poland,
Romania, Lithuania, Thailand, and Morocco. That’s why
these detainees were sent to other governments to be
coerced and tortured into providing information that might
not have been true.’
support in its War on Terror.
Amrit Singh, center, at a PEN event. She spent years acquiring and meticulously
combing through official records that show how, starting with the Bush
Administration, America got foreign governments to comply, in a range of ways,
with systematic abuse of terror suspects.
Singh said the black sites referred to secret facilities in
locations that the US had not officially admitted.
It was at these locations that ‘enhanced interrogation
techniques’ — an euphemism for waterboarding, stress
positions, water dousing, slamming people into walls, subjecting them to sexual humiliation, beating them with
cables and more.
As a result, she said in the report, the US had diminished
its moral standing and reputation worldwide and eroded
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