2. Top Ten US Aid Recipients All Practice Torture

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The top ten nations slated to receive US foreign assistance in fiscal year 2014 all practice torture and are responsible for major human rights abuses, Daniel Wickham has reported. Wickham based this conclusion on a combination of projected foreign assistance figures from a January 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service, and from findings on torture reported independently by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other major human rights organizations.

A Congressional Research Service report, prepared for the members and committees of Congress, indicated the projected fiscal year 2014 budgets for US foreign assistance by country. According to this report, the top ten countries and their expected assistance (in millions of current US dollars) are as follows:

  1. Israel 3,100
  2. Afghanistan 2,200
  3. Egypt 1,600
  4. Pakistan 1,200
  5. Nigeria  693
  6. Jordan  671
  7. Iraq 573
  8. Kenya 564
  9. Tanzania 553
  10. Uganda 456

Wickham reported that, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other leading human rights organizations, each of the listed countries is accused of torturing people in the last year, and at least half are reported to be doing so on a massive scale.

For example, Israel, the top recipient of US financial assistance, has been accused of committing major human rights abuses over the last year, including the torture of Palestinian children. A recent report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel described how detained children “suspected of minor crimes” have been sexually assaulted by Israeli security forces and kept in outdoor cages during the winter. It found that “74 per cent of Palestinian child detainees experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.” A United Nations report indicated that torture is “widespread” in Afghanistan, while Amnesty International documented torture as a “common” practice in Iraq, and an “abysmal” human rights situation in Egypt. Human Rights Watch reported that torture is practiced with “near-total impunity” in Jordan.

As Wickham reported, financial assistance to such governments could violate existing US law, which mandates that little or no funding be granted to a country that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture.” The United States remains a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified in October 1994. That the top ten recipients of U.S. foreign assistance “all practice torture raises serious questions,” Wickham wrote, “about the Obama administration’s stance on human rights. If the United States wants to be taken seriously on these issues, a serious re-evaluation of its foreign assistance programme is needed.”

Source: Daniel Wickham, “Top 10 US Aid Recipients All Practice Torture,” Left Foot Forward, January 30, 2014, http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/01/top-ten-us-aid-recipients-all-practice-torture.

Student Researcher: Alyssa Tufaro (Florida Atlantic University)

Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)