Amnesty International has written a letter toexpressing concern about the confinement conditions of Private Bradley who is accused of leaking material to Wikileaks. Bradley is being held at a Marine Corps base in Virginia the Quantico naval brig.
The entire letter is available here. I will just mention a few of the concerns. Manning is confined 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. The cell has only a bed, toilet, and sink with no windows and the only view being to a corridor on the outside. His meals are eaten in his cell that has no chair or table.
He is allowed to exercise alone for one hour a day. The restrictions are a result of Bradley being classified as a maximum custody detainee. During any family visits or those by his lawyer he must be shackled at the hands and legs even though the visits are non-contact! As well as falling under Maximum Custody Provisions, Manning also falls under a POI Prevention of Injury classification. This subjects him to further restrictions.
His guards check on him every five minutes. He is not allowed to sleep during the day. He must remain visible at all times even during night checks. He is also deprived of sheets and a separate pillow. He must sleep in boxer shorts and apparently his skin is chafed by the blanket that is provided.
While at least some of these provisions seem reasonable if a person were suicidal no formal reasons have been given for either maximum security classification or the POI assignment. Efforrts by his lawyer to challenge the classification have brought no response. It seems that the authorities can decide on their own without challenge or at least effective challenge.
The military psychiatrist overseeing Bradley recommended that the POI assignment be stopped since it was not necessary. Continuing the assignment seems to be necessary for punishment I assume!
While Amnesty recognises solitary confinement is sometimes necessary the writer notes that Manning has no history of violence or disciplinary infractions. He is also a pre-trial detainee not convicted yet of any crime.
The letter claims that the conditions under which Manning is held breach the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. The covenant requires that "all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person" Persons deprived of their liberty shall not be "subjected to any hardship or constraint other than that resulting from the deprivation of liberty; respect for the dignity of such persons must be guaranteed under the same conditions as for that of free persons ...".
Amnesty is concerned about the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement. Amnesty points out that such isolation can cause psychological impairment, including depression, anxiety and loss of concentration. This could, undermine his ability to assist in his defence and thus his right to a fair trial.
The letters asks that Gates review the conditions under which Bradley is held and ensure that he is no longer held in 23 hour confinement or subect to other undue restrictions. While the condition may not be classified as torture they certainly add up harsh punishment before Bradley has even been tried., There is no rationale being given for his classification and restrictions. Many countries ban extended solitary confinement.