Sunday, June 01, 2008

America's Prison Galleys

The Brits used them, so did the French. They were all the rage in the 18th century - prison galleys, ships (usually mere hulks) used for the long-term confinement and transportation of convicts.

Now it seems the Bush regime may have revived this quaint tradition. According to The Guardian, the United States is rumoured to be operating floating prisons to hold captives from the War (without end) on Terror.

According to the human rights group, Reprieve, the US has used a fleet of naval vessels as floating prisons since 2001:

"Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained.

Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped.

It is the use of ships to detain prisoners, however, that is raising fresh concern and demands for inquiries in Britain and the US.

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as "floating prisons" since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans."

What's next, Devil's Island? Oh, sorry, I forgot, they renamed that Guantanimo.

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