Amnesty International – 2013-05-05 23:55:33
Guantanamo, Bagram and Illegal US Detentions
(May 5, 2013) — The United Statesâ€™ detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have become emblematic of the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the US Government in the name of fighting terrorism.
At Guantanamo, the US government sought to hold detainees in a place neither US nor international law applied. But no one can be held outside of the law.
Guantanamo must be closed the right way: detainees must either be promptly charged and given fair trials in US federal courts, or be released. Illegal detention at other US facilities, including those in Afghanistan, must end.
In Rasul v. Bush (2004) the US Supreme Court ruled that federal courts had jurisdiction over detainees in GuantÃ¡namo, allowing detainees to file petitions seeking habeas corpus — the centuries old right to challenge the legality of one’s detention.
In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) the Court found that Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions applied to GuantÃ¡namo detainees.
In 2006, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which stripped federal courts of the right to hear habeas corpus cases by or on behalf of any GuantÃ¡namo detainees. But on June 12, 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that detainees held at GuantÃ¡namo are entitled, under the US Constitution, to habeas corpus.
More than six years after the first detainees were transferred to GuantÃ¡namo, only six people have had their cases adjudicated — the majority taking plea deals rather than fighting their case in a courtroom heavily stacked against them. Only a handful of others have even been charged.
Approximately 240 inmates still remain in Guantanamo, some of whom are now in their ninth year of detention. These men have been subjected to a wide range of interrogation tactics that constitute ill-treatment, including stress positions, sensory deprivation, prolonged isolation, the use of 20-hour interrogations, hooding during transportation and interrogation, stripping, forcible shaving, and “using detainees individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress.”
Incredibly, of those still being held approximately 60 individuals have actually been cleared for release but the United States has either failed to find a safe haven for them or, in the case of 27 Yemenis, refused to return them to their country of origin. The indefinite and arbitrary nature of the circumstances of their detention has led to a steep decline in the mental health of many incarcerated at GuantÃ¡namo.
There have been numerous suicide attempts and hunger strikes. In June 2006, after the apparent suicides of three inmates, many detainees were moved to isolated cells in “Supermax” facilities known as Camp 5 and Camp 6.
There, they lost the ability to eat or exercise communally. They have very limited contact with anyone but their jailers and almost no access to sunlight or fresh air. A fourth detainee died of an apparent suicide in March 2007 and a fifth in June 2009.
The detention facilities at GuantÃ¡namo Bay have also diminished the United States’ reputation, providing a magnet for criticism from allies and enemies alike. In the years since Amnesty International has called for closure of the detention facilities, a growing number of high-ranking US officials from both political parties, allied governments, and the United Nations have issued calls for the prison’s closure.
The detention facility at GuantÃ¡namo Bay isn’t the only prison where the United States is holding detainees from the “war on terror” — detention facilities in Afghanistan are also used to detain those captured by the US military. Most detainees are held unlawfully, without warrant or charge, and with no legal representation to challenge their detention. Even when GuantÃ¡namo is closed, the push for detainee human rights must continue.
Close Guantanamo — No Forced Feedings, No Illegal Detentions
(May 5, 2013) — Desperate for justice, after over a decade of indefinite detention, at least 100 detainees have gone on a massive hunger strike in protest. According to media reports 21 of these detainees are being shackled and force-fed through tubes to keep them alive, against their wishes.â€¨â€¨
Pressure to close the prison is at an all-time high. Responding to the strike, President Obama reiterated his vow to shutter the facility:
“I don’t want these individuals to die… Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. [It] is contrary to who we are… and it needs to stop.”
— President Obama, April 30, 2013
The time for promises is over. The time for action is now.â€¨â€¨Amnesty supporters have sent more than 20,000 letters to Obama in the last 24 hours — add your message to amplify our impact.
Tell Obama and Congress that you support closing Guantanamo now.â€¨â€¨
Death should not be the only way out of Guantanamo.â€¨â€¨Imprisoned in Guantanamo in 2002, Adnan Latif was never charged with a crime, denied the right to make his case in a fair trial, put in solitary confinement and tortured. A judge ordered his release in 2012. He died at Guantanamo on Sept. 8, 2012.â€¨Nine prisoners have died waiting for justice in Guantanamo.â€¨
Obama blames an uncooperative Congress for frustrating his effort to close Guantanamo, but he is not without options for doing the right thing, right now. For example, dozens of detainees have been cleared to leave and can be transferred under current US law. People like Shaker Aamer, who the UK government says should be free with his family in London. Resolving such cases can happen now and would be a positive step.â€¨â€¨
For the remaining prisoners, charge and fairly try them in federal court, or release them.â€¨â€¨
President Obama must take action now and Congress must support, not hinder, the effort.
Send your message today:
President Obama, make good on your promise to close Guantanamo.â€¨â€¨
Let’s end this shame. With your help, we can do it. Thanks so much for all you do to defend dignity and human rights for all.â€¨â€¨
Security with Human Rights Campaignâ€¨
Amnesty International USA