Monday, January 09, 2012

Newsletter - December 2011

Guantánamo Bay:
Amnesty International issued a new report “Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights” looking back on ten years of Guantánamo Bay and the impact the regime of illegal detention and abuse has had on the protection of human rights worldwide.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2012), authorising defence spending in the USA for the coming year, became law at the end of December after it was signed by President Obama. After almost ten years of the regime of detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay and other similar prisons around the world, the US government has decided to bring this regime home and legalise indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay and beyond, including the US mainland, through an incredibly broad definition of persons deemed to be at war with the United States and what that covers, including US citizens at home and abroad as well, and privileging military detention for prisoners. Although President Obama signed it with “reservations”, particularly as concerns the detention of US citizens, its broad scope could result in questionable applications by future governments. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) considers it to be unconstitutional and illegal.
For more on this news:

Extraordinary rendition:
The location of a secret CIA-run prison in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, has been discovered following an investigation by the German media. Former CIA operatives identified the location in a suburb of the city which had previously been used by the Romanian secret services. The prison is alleged to have held victims of extraordinary rendition including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh. The facility was reported to have been used between 2002 and 2006. The Council of Europe, which has investigated allegations of such prisons in Europe, welcomed the news but it has been denied by the Romanian government and the CIA.
More on this news:

On 14 December, the human rights NGO Reprieve won an important case in the Court of Appeal in which the British government was ordered to seek the release of a man held at Bagram without charge or trial since 2004. Yunus Rahmatullah, a Pakistani national, was arrested by British troops in Iraq in February 2004. He was handed over to the US army which “rendered” him to Bagram, where he has been held ever since and has never been charged. In spite of having the power to do so and complicit in his rendition, the British government has consistently refused to help him, refusing at first even to confirm his identity to his family. He has had sporadic communication with his family via the Red Cross and has only recently been able to communicate with them by telephone. His physical and mental health is reported to have deteriorated considerably during his detention. Reprieve brought a “habeas corpus” petition (that he should be tried or released) at the High Court in London to have the government ordered to seek his release by the US military, which it has the power to do under various agreements with the American government and international law. The court agreed that the government had no duty to Mr Rahmatullah at first but Reprieve won on appeal. The British government had seven days following the judgment to seek his release or appeal against the decision. The government accepted the decision and wrote to the US government seeking his release to British custody so that he can be released. Under a memorandum of understanding signed by the UK and the US, Britain can seek Mr Rahmatullah’s release, and that of any prisoner handed over, at any time. The court has given the government until 18 January to secure his release and it remains to be seen whether the American side will comply with its side of the agreement. If the US does not comply, Britain will be in breach of the Geneva Conventions and British officials will be subject to war crimes prosecution.
This ruling by the Court of Appeal is of significance as it is the first time that a civilian court anywhere has been able to secure some form of justice for prisoners at Bagram, whose inmates remain in a far worse condition than prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
For more on Yunus Rahmatullah, this case and the judgment:

LGC Activities:
Four people joined the December Shut Down Guantánamo! demonstration on Friday 2 December. Please note that there is NO monthly demonstration in January.

Please join the London Guantánamo Campaign on Saturday 7 January at 2-4pm on the north side of Trafalgar Square (outside the National Gallery) for the “Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame” demonstration organised with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, the Stop The War Coalition and the Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament:

Please sign the London Guantánamo Campaign’s e-petition to the US Ambassador to London which we intend to deliver on 11 January 2012 addressed to the US ambassador to the UK calling for the return of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha to the UK and the closure of Guantánamo Bay. Please add your name (and comments, if you wish) and ask your friends and family to do as well.

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