detention

Gitmo prisoners ask court to end force-feedings

Four Guantánamo Bay prisoners filed a motion (PDF) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on June 30 asking the federal court to order the prison's officials to stop the practice of force-feeding hunger strikers. In their motion, Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Belbacha, Nabil Hadjarab and Abu Wa'el Dhiab alleged that the practice violates human rights law and medical ethics, while serving "no penological interest." They also noted that they have all been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and have since determined that it is not likely they will ever be charged or released, and thus their being force-fed serves no military necessity. They requested an accelerated hearing on the issue in order to avoid any conflict with the upcoming Islamic holiday Ramadan, which begins on the evening of July 8. Currently, there are 166 detainees at the Guantanamo prison, of which 106 are on hunger strike.

Judge urges new approach in Gitmo detainee cases

A federal judge called June 18 on members of Congress and the president to give serious consideration to formulating a different approach for the handling of Guantánamo Bay detainee cases. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released their opinion in the case of Abdul al-Qader Hussain v. Barack Obama (opinion, PDF) in which Judge Harry Edwards wrote a concurring opinion. The majority opinion found that Abdul al-Qader Ahmed Hussain had been affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and was therefore properly detained. In his concurrence Edwards conceded that while the president was authorized to detain Hussain under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), there was no evidence that he had "aided" those who engaged in terrorist attacks.

US releases names of indefinite Gitmo detainees

The US government on June 17 released (text, PDF) the names and nationalities of 46 men who are classified for "continued detention" at Guantánamo Bay detention center, ineligible for release, transfer or prosecution. The names were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Miami Herald and the New York Times. In the 2010 Guantanamo Review Task Force (PDF) the US government explained continued detention:

US charges Gitmo detainee with war crimes

The US Department of Defense (DoD) on June 10 announced that military commission charges have been filed against Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. Al-Hadi is an Iraqi prisoner who has been held at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba since 2007. The official charge sheet (PDF) alleges, among other things, that al-Hadi was a superior commander for al-Qaeda and that he and his operatives killed multiple US service members and attacked a US military medical helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades and firearms. Prosecutors also allege that al-Hadi funded and oversaw all of al-Qaeda's operations against US and allied forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2002 to 2004 and that he directed his forces to use various unlawful means, such as attacking civilians and detonating car bombs in civilian areas. The charges against al-Hadi will next be reviewed by a Pentagon official. If approved, the case can proceed with arraignment on the charges, which carry a potential life sentence.

UK forces accused of illegally detaining Afghans

London-based Public Interest Lawyers on May 29 accused the UK military of holding at least eight men without charge at the UK temporary holding facility in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Their clients have allegedly been held for over eight months without charge and without access to lawyers in what could be a breach of international law. Applications for habeas corpus were issued on behalf of two of the men in April, and the military has ordered a hearing in July. UK Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond insisted that the holdings are in compliance with international law and that there are regular inspections by the International Committee of the Red Cross. He explained that standard military procedures, which required the detainees to be released to Afghan forces after 96 hours, were changed in November due to suspicions about the use of torture on prisoners by the Afghan forces. According to the Ministry of Defence, the detainees are being held in Camp Bastion until a safe path through the Afghan system could be assured.

Obama addresses drone strikes, steps to close Gitmo

US President Barack Obama delivered a speech May 23 on US counterterrorism policy and efforts, outlining plans to restrict the use of unmanned drone strikes and to renew efforts to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay. In Obama's first major speech on counterterrorism since his re-election, he said: "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue, but this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands." But rather than introduce new sweeping policies, Obama's speech reaffirmed his national security priorities.

Harrowing Gitmo memoir published

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian detained at Guantánamo since August 2002, had portions of his handwritten prison-camp memoir published in Slate on April 30. Slahi wrote the 466-page journal from 2005-2006, and it has just become unclassified, although many sections are redacted. Slahi mostly grew up in Germany and went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet-backed regime in 1990, where he apparently fell in with al-Qaeda. He repudiated al-Qaeda in 1992 and returned to Germany to study, later moving to Canada. In 2001 back in Mauritania, he was detained "for questioning" by police at US behest—and promptly renditioned to Jordan. There, he was tortured for months on suspicion of involvement in the 2000 "Millennium Plot"—on the specious grounds that a member of his Montreal mosque was caught with plot-related explosives. The Jordanians concluded he wasn't involved, but the US sent him to Bagram and then to Guantánamo. That's when the nightmare really began.

Obama addresses Gitmo hunger strike

US President Barack Obama on April 30 renewed his pledge to make an effort to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay. At a news conference, Obama was asked about the ongoing hunger strike, now involving 100 of the 166 detainees. He responded, "Well, it is not a surprise to me that we've got problems in Guantánamo, which is why when I was campaigning in 2007 and 2008, and when I was elected in 2008, I said we need to close Guantánamo. I continue to believe that we've got to close Guantánamo." He went on to say:

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