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David’s Experience of Torture

The following acts outlined in David Hicks’ affidavit and book are considered to be torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment according to human rights and law of war standards (on their own and some in combination with others).

Torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment experienced by David Hicks

  • Beatings, including being slapped, hit with fists and hard objects (rifle butts and pipes), thrown onto concrete, ramming head into concrete, being kicked and stepped on, having arms twisted into unnatural and painful positions (note: some beatings lasted for 10 hours)
  • Breaking bones
  • Being spat on
  • Sleep deprivation- interrogations in the middle of the night, constant lighting, screaming and guards kicking doors or cages in the middle of the night
  • Sexual Assault
  • Threats of rape and torture (being shown photos of other detainees black and blue from beatings)
  • Humiliation and degradation: photographing David naked
  • Isolation/ Solitary Confinement
  • Mock executions- having rifles and shotguns pointed at the head during interrogations and transport, letting off grenades outside interrogation room and saying that it was another detainee being killed, dressing detainees in the same garb worn by death row prisoners
  • Forced medication (experimentation)- forced injections and pills were given to detainees during transport and throughout the years at Guantanamo that induced extreme agitation and nervousness, or drowsiness (David was given a concoction of medication that made him unable to stay awake- he was then read his charges). There is proof detainees were given high doses of Larium- a drug that can produce hallucinations and psychosis
  • Forced nakedness and forced positioning against other prisoners
  • Short shackling in stress positions- forced to kneel whilst shackled on rocks for hours at a time, chaining to the floor and leaving detainees there for hours at a time (forcing them to urinate on themselves), this also occurred during interrogations
  • Shackles and other restraints (flex cuffs) placed on the ankles, wrists and waist so tightly that blood circulation was stopped- at one point during transportation they used both flex cuffs and metal handcuffs to deliberately cause pain. Being forced to run in tight shackles so that the skin was removed from the ankles.
  • Sensory deprivation- being blindfolded, hooded and goggles placed over the top of the hood, with ear muffs and mitts placed on the hands for prolonged periods- including during transport to Guantanamo
  • Sensory bombardment- Bright lights left on 24 hours a day for years at a time, and repetitive, loud music including chainsaw engines and animal sounds
  • Forced shaving of the head and all other body hair
  • Interrogations with weapons pointing at the head
  • Threats of further physical assault if he did not cooperate- yelled at abusively constantly
  • The use of dogs to terrorise and promote a fearful environment
  • Not permitted access to sunlight for months at a time (at one point David had not seen sunlight for 8 months)
  • Temperature extremes- either hot or cold cells (or being left in the wire cages of X-Ray to be exposed to the elements)
  • Unhygienic conditions for prolonged periods (faeces overflowing in the cell, no toothbrush or soap, limited showers and changes of clothes)
  • When letters from family finally arrived they were censored- the word love always removed
  • Having pictures of an executed Saddam Hussein posted on the walls saying ‘Saddam refused to cooperate with lawyers and look what happened to him. This could be you’
  • Four point shackling to hospital bed and forced non-treatment related medication given during medical procedures (particularly when operating on David’s double hernia, and then with removal of lumps that formed on his chest)
  • Restriction of movement and lack of recreation- Leaving detainees in small cells, taking detainees out for ‘rec’ in the middle of the night.
  • Insufficient space to exercise (having such a small space that he had to run in circles on concrete that fractured both of his feet)
  • Not enough food and lacking in nutrition
  • Being under constant surveillance by cameras 24 hours a day, even whilst showering and going to the toilet
  • Being forced to read children’s books intended for preschool children (keeping detainees in a childlike state)- threatened with punishment if he did not read them


Torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment David witnessed or heard (on top of the above)

  • ‘Operation Sandman’ or ‘Frequent Flyer Program’, a sleep-deprivation program that moved detainees every hour for weeks on end
  • A child detainee screaming ‘Help! Why are you doing this to me?’ during an interrogation session
  • IRFings of other detainees that resulted in broken bones and blood being scrubbed off the concrete (this included detainees who had lost limbs and were unable to fend for themselves).
  • Beatings- including dragging and forcefully slamming detainees’ faces into concrete breaking their bones and resulting in serious injury (including brain injury). David saw bruises on other detainees’ bodies throughout his time in Guantanamo.
  • Torture of other detainees during interrogations- e.g. David witnessed one detainee being ‘interrogated’ continuously in two eight hour sessions in a twenty four hour period- clothes of detainee were removed (he had been undressed). The detainee was being dragged to and from his cell. David witnessed detainees being locked in interrogation rooms with loud sounds (e.g. frog noises, or Bob the Builder songs), beatings that resulted in broken bones and one detainee that is now unable to talk or walk.
  • Defacing Qur’ans in buckets of urine and faeces, or in the toilets
  • Use of large, aggressive dogs for intimidation
  • Pepper spraying of detainees


Other acts that David Hicks heard about from other detainees

  • Detainees being forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and each other
  • Directing pepper spray into detainees’ eyes
  • Shoving detainees’ heads into toilets
  • Spraying high-pressure hoses up detainees’ noses to simulate suffocation
  • Smearing faeces on detainees
  • Guards pepper-spraying detainees’ toilet paper
  • Torture rooms- incident where a detainee’s mother had passed away. To inform the detainee, he was shackled to the floor of a torture room with strobe lights flashing and pictures of corpses and pornography placed over the walls. A guard dressed as the Grim Reaper stood in the corner and said to the detainee words to the effect of- your mother is dead and is performing inappropriate acts with Satan (this has been censored due to its unsavoury content)
  • Force-feeding