Burned, Beaten, and Electrocuted: One Survivor’s Shocking Story of Torture in Morocco

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

By Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Morocco and Western Sahara

In December 2010, Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan coffee shop owner was extradited from Spain to Morocco, where Moroccan intelligence held him in a secret prison for 12 days in Témara, near the capital city of Rabat.

Ali described the anguish his muscles and joints experienced while he was suspended from his wrists for extended periods of time, the searing pain of feeling his flesh being burned by cigarettes, enduring excruciating electric shocks to his testicles, having his head held under water until he fainted, being raped with a glass bottle, and having the soles of his feet beaten raw. He remained in the secret holding facility until he signed a “confession” pre-written for him in Arabic – a language he does not speak.

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Which Weapons Policy for Israel Are You Using Mr. President?

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf forcefully countered questions about a recent Wall Street Journal article by saying 'there has been no change in policy.' But which policy did she mean? (Photo credit should read Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf forcefully countered questions about a recent Wall Street Journal article by saying ‘there has been no change in policy.’ But which policy did she mean? (Photo credit should read Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the U.S. administration is reviewing Israeli requests for weapons and munitions. The article stated that White House and State Department officials were “increasingly disturbed” that Israel “was using artillery instead of more precision-guided munitions in densely populated areas.”

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Moving On From the Mountain: The Continuing Crisis in Northern Iraq

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

While extensive media attention has been paid to the plight of those who were under siege on Sinjar Mountain, the broader crisis in north-western Iraq continues.

Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Advisor is currently on the ground, collecting and sharing eyewitness accounts of the crisis. In many ways, the plight of those who were stranded on Sinjar helped focus international attention to the broader crisis.

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The United States is Not Just a Bystander in Israel-Gaza Violence

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three  medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit:  Amnesty International)

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

This past week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes and other military operations that have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians not directly participating in hostilities.

The U.S., as the largest foreign supplier of weapons, munitions, police equipment and devices, as well as training and techniques to Israel, bears a particular responsibility for the deployment of the weapons it provides.

Amnesty International is calling for a U.N.-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.  Amnesty is also calling for a UN-imposed comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

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The Science of Torture

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The stench of rotting flesh coming from the tiny, cramped cell overpowered him. This was the smell of torture.

As soon he set one foot inside the small room at a police detention center in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Forensic Doctor Duarte Vieira was shocked. He had never seen anything as bad – and he had seen plenty.

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Boko Haram: Now What?

Women hold banners during a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom (Photo Credit: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images).

Women hold banners during a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom (Photo Credit: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images).

Johanna Lee contributed to this post. 

In mid-April, Islamist armed group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls aged 15-18 from the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria. The abductions triggered outrage, protests and a social media campaign criticizing the response of the Nigerian authorities and demanding a major effort to secure the freedom of the girls.

Yet, almost two months later, little, if any, progress has been made in freeing the kidnapped girls and the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and his security forces have failed to communicate a plan or even convince the families of the girls that they are doing all that they can to get the girls released.

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Can Angelina Jolie and the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict Help Stop This Crisis?

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie arriving at the airport in Sarajevo to visit Bosnia ahead of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 27, 2014 (Photo Credit: Samir Yordamovic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie arriving at the airport in Sarajevo to visit Bosnia ahead of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 27, 2014 (Photo Credit: Samir Yordamovic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

When a violent conflict emerges, it is women and girls who bear the brunt of the conflict in some of the most horrific ways imaginable.

For example, from 2006 to 2007, faced with a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 400,000 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 were raped. In other words, every five minutes in the DRC, four women and girls were raped. These are human rights abuses perpetrated at an astounding rate.

These abuses have touched conflict zones across the world: from Bosnia to Syria to Colombia, and have become a prominent feature of modern armed conflict.

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How Many Different Ways Can the World Fail the Syrian People?

The U.N. now numbers the total of displaced persons in Syria at 6.5 million. 2.8 million  more have have fled the country and are now in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, overwhelming authorities in those countries (Photo Credit: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images).

The U.N. now numbers the total of displaced persons in Syria at 6.5 million. 2.8 million more have have fled the country and are now in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, overwhelming authorities in those countries (Photo Credit: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images).

How many different times can Russia and China stand against justice for human rights abuses in Syria?

Yesterday, Russia and China vetoed a French resolution before the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Introducing Amnesty’s New Global Campaign Against Torture

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Darrell Cannon was tortured by three Chicago Police Department detectives at a remote site on Chicago’s South Side. Over course of a day, they pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. The officers attempted to lift him off the ground by handcuffs secured behind his back, contorting his upper body. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, breaking his tooth.

“These are all things they enjoyed doing,” Darrell Cannon told Amnesty International, his voice cracking.

He spent 24 years in prison on the basis of a coerced confession that was tortured out of him – ten of those years suffering further degradation in solitary confinement at Tamms Supermax prison.

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