Background Briefing

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V. Humilation and Degradation

Tarek Dergoul said that during a period of heavy interrogation, he was denied clean clothes and bedding for up to three weeks (normally, a clear set of orange overalls would be given to each prisoner once a week49), and he was sometimes given clothes that were several sizes too small.50

The three British detainees said that they witnessed other detainees being stripped of their clothes and being humiliated. “This was done in full view of all those on the block and not only humiliated the prisoner involved but caused deep resentment in the others in sight.”51

Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, who were released in early March 2004 and repatriated to the UK, recounted the following: 

Shortly before we left, a new practice was started.  People would be taken to what was called the “Romeo” block where they would be stripped completely.  After three days they would be given underwear.  After another three days they would be given a top, and then after another three days given trouser bottoms.  Some people only ever got underwear.  This was said to be for ‘misbehaving’…. So far as leaving detainees naked is concerned, it is our understanding that the Red Cross complained…about the practice.52

Former detainee N.H. told Human Rights Watch that “a lot of verbal abuse continued all the time.”53 Insulting behavior by guards towards the detainees’ Islamic faith is described by at least five former detainees.  In addition to the disrespect shown to the Koran, as mentioned above, Tarek Dergoul also described the following: 

There was a microphone in Camp Delta which was supposed to be used for the call to prayer.  However, the MPs or guards would mess around with it.  They would make it play five times or sometimes they would not play it.  They would put scratches over it.  They played it at the wrong times.  At other times they spoke over the tannoy and mocked it with their own voices saying ‘Allah Akbar’.  They would play the morning prayer call at night.  Sometimes they would not play it for a week.  Then other times it would be turned up full blast or turned down.54

[49] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Razak, June 4, 2004.

[50] David Rose, “They tied me up like a beast and began kicking me,” The Observer, London, May 16, 2004, available online at:,6903,1217969,00.html, accessed on May 18, 2004.

[51] Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, Open letter to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, May 13, 2004. See also Statement of Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed, “Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay,” released publicly on August 4, 2004, para. 112, available online at:, accessed on August 19, 2004.

[52] Ibid., para. 299.

[53] Human Rights Watch interview with N.H (name withheld), June 2, 2004.

[54] Statement by Tarek Dergoul made available to Human Rights Watch, May 24, 2004.

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