Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Nine prisoners were released from Guantánamo
Bay this month, bringing the number of remaining prisoners to 155 in total. All
nine men had been cleared for release many years earlier. On 5 December, it was
announced that Djamel Ameziane, who had been on hunger strike and tube-fed
since 2008, and Belkecem BenSayah, had been returned to Algeria. Both men had
strongly opposed being returned to the country, particularly Djamel Ameziane,
who had hoped to seek asylum elsewhere, having fled the country during the
civil war in the 1990s fearing persecution; he had a pending application for
resettlement in Canada. Upon return to the country, both men “disappeared”
until they were released on 16 December.
The return of the two men, particularly of Ameziane to Algeria sparked criticism from various bodies and NGOs, including the UN, as the repatriation was in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, “which prohibits transfers and deportations of individuals to countries where they may run the risk of being tortured.”
Other Algerians released from Guantánamo also would have preferred to stay at the prison facility than be returned to their country, and were also detained and “disappeared” upon release and continue to face persecution.
On 16 December, two Saudi prisoners, Said Muhammad Husyan Qahtani, and Hamoud Abdullah Hamoud were released; both men were cleared for release in 2009.
Their release was followed by the release two days later of two Sudanese prisoners to their home country: Noor Uthman Mohammed, who had completed his sentence following conviction before a military commission in 2011, having pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in a plea bargain to avoid a life sentence, and Ibrahim Othman Ibrahim Idris, whose released was ordered by a judge in October, and not opposed by the US government, on the grounds of severe mental health – shortly after arrival at Guantánamo, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic – and physical health problems. Upon return to Sudan, both men claimed they had been tortured at Guantánamo on a regular basis and Sudanese civil society organisations have demanded an apology from the US for its treatment of Sudanese nationals, dismissing Mohammed’s conviction as having been obtained through an unfair plea bargain.
On 30 December, the three remaining ethnic Uighur Chinese prisoners, whose release had been ordered in 2008, but who remained at Guantánamo for fear of persecution by the Chinese authorities, were sent to Slovakia, who accepted three other prisoners in 2009 who were in need of a safe third state to turn to.
There was further good news regarding the release of cleared prisoners on 26 December when President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2014 which included provisions to make it easier to transfer, and thus release, prisoners, although prisoners are still not allowed to be transferred to the US itself. The provisions mean that over half of the prisoners, who have been cleared for release and never charged or tried, could soon be freed. Human rights NGOs have called on the government to act quickly on this new opportunity to release many more prisoners. In passing the law, Obama took the opportunity to criticise Congress for hindering his ability to do more to close Guantánamo.
Former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr’s lawyers returned to court in Canada on 18 December in a $20 million lawsuit originally brought against the Canadian government when Khadr was still held at Guantánamo for its collusion in his torture and abuse by the US military at Bagram in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay. The lawsuit, originally brought in 2004, concerns abuses of Khadr’s rights by his government, and his lawyers claim there is new evidence to show that the Canadian government denied him his constitutional rights while colluding with the US. The lawsuit claims that the Canadian “governments [at the time of his detention] were not passive bystanders in Khadr’s incarceration, but willingly co-operated with the U.S. in violation of Canadian and international laws,” as well as failed to recognise him as a child soldier.
In new documents filed as part of the case, Omar Khadr has publicly stated for the first time that he only pleaded guilty because he was in a “hopeless situation”, and a guilty plea would be his most likely way out of Guantánamo Bay. He also states that the agreement in the plea bargain, and the facts as laid out in the case, were put together entirely by the US government. He also stated that “he has never believed Jews or Americans should be killed or deserve to die, and says he never willingly joined an al-Qaida terrorist cell.” He also said that “he has no memories of that battle or of the grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer”.
When the case came to hearing, the judge rejected the Canadian government’s claim to have the case dismissed but asked his lawyers to rewrite the claim into a broader submission to include the new issues, which will be presented to him in mid-January.
Days before this court hearing, Omar Khadr was reclassified as a medium-security risk prisoner, instead of maximum risk, and is likely to be transferred to the Bowden Correctional Institution north of Calgary early next year. This followed a decision in August to reclassify his status. At Guantánamo Bay, he had been assessed as minimum risk. Medium-risk status will give him access to education and rehabilitation programmes that will make easier for him to be given parole.
New (redacted) documents that have come to light through a freedom of information (FOI) request show that the Australian government of John Howard made false statements and knew that the US would use evidence obtained through the use of torture in the military commission of former prisoner David Hicks, and subsequently that he was tortured in US custody, following his capture in Afghanistan in 2001. The documents include e-mails and cables between Australian and US officials. Like Omar Khadr, Hicks is in the process of appealing his conviction before a military commission, which was also effectively his only way out of Guantánamo. He was released in 2007 and had to serve the rest of his sentence in Australia.
The pre-trial hearing resumed on 9 December in the case of 5 prisoners alleged to have been involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks, with a closed hearing on the first day. In the next two days of the hearing, the proceedings were interrupted several times by one of the defendants, Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh, who was removed from the courtroom. Evidence obtained through torture was one of the issues dealt with during the hearing, which has now been halted until Al-Shibh is subject to a mental health assessment to see if he is fit to stand trial. While the trial is set to resume in January or February, further proceedings will be suspended pending the examination, which may last up to one year.
In the meantime, the trial judge has ordered the US government to preserve whatever is left of the CIA Bush-era secret torture prisons, or “black sites”, around the world, which could provide evidence once the actual trial starts, at the earliest, in 2015.
Abd Al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen facing a separate military commission, and potentially the death penalty, for his alleged involvement in 2000 in the bombing of the USS Cole warship in the Gulf of Aden lost a case to have the military commission deemed to lack jurisdiction to hear the case as the attack took place prior to any declared hostilities between the US and Yemen and was thus a peacetime attack. While he did not contest the label of “enemy combatant” in the case, he sought to have the case heard by a civil district court but the court held that in this case a military court had jurisdiction.
On 2-3 December, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg heard a case against Poland brought by two prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Abd Al Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, both currently facing trial before military commissions, for the country’s role in their torture and rendition before they were taken to Guantánamo Bay. The case was brought following the Polish government’s failure to investigate and hold responsible officials to account. The Polish government failed in a bid to have the hearing held in secret but the first day was held in closed session, whereas the second day was public. A judgment is expected in early January.
Abu Anas Al-Libi, who was kidnapped and rendered to the US by the US military from the streets of Tripoli, Libya, in October 2013, had a pre-trial hearing where charges were laid against him for alleged involvement in the bombing of US Embassies in East Africa in 1998, along with two other men, Adel Abdel Bary and Khalid Al Fawzi, who lost their lengthy extradition battle to the US from the UK in October 2012. A trial date for the three men has been set for November 2014. During the time that he “disappeared” off the streets of Tripoli and was later claimed to be held and interrogated on board the USS San Antonio, it is unknown whether he was abused and possibly tortured. Questions remain over the legality of this operation; he was transferred to the US mainland due to concerns about his health.
On 19 December, the government published a report into the findings of the Detainee Inquiry http://www.detaineeinquiry.org.uk/2013/12/statement-by-the-inquiry-december-2013/ led by retired judge, Sir Peter Gibson. The report, of the partial findings of the inquiry which collapsed in early 2012 due to the weight of criminal investigations against the government for its involvement in torture and rendition abroad, looked at the documents provided to it, but did not hold any interviews with victims or their representatives, as it was boycotted by them early on, and does not offer any fact-finding or conclusions. The government originally received the report in mid-2012 but did not publish it until now. The report was redacted prior to publication. The government then announced that, contrary to its initial promises, the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) would take over the inquiry; the ISC lacks independence and transparency and its members are nominated by the prime minister.
On 20 December, a High Court judge dismissed a case brought against MI6 and former foreign secretary Jack Straw by Libyan rendition victim Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife, as it would harm UK-US relations and British interests, as British and American intelligence officers were involved. The judge did, however, state that the claim that he was unlawfully abducted was “well-founded”. Mr Belhaj’s lawyers plan to appeal the ruling.
Five non-Afghan prisoners held at Bagram prison for over a decade following their rendition there lost an appeal to have the right to file habeas corpus petitions to know the reasons for their detention, as has been granted to Guantánamo prisoners. The appeal judges upheld a previous ruling made in 2012 that the US does not have jurisdiction over Bagram to allow the prisoners to enjoy such rights as it does over Guantánamo http://www.lawfareblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Maqaleh-et-al-Opinion-12-24-2013.pdf Effectively, prisoners held at Bagram are held in worse conditions and have fewer rights than prisoners at Guantánamo. Following the handover of Bagram to the Afghan authorities in 2012, whereby the US only retains control over around 50 foreign prisoners that it considers high value, many of the Afghan prisoners have been released. One of the appellants, Hamidullah, who was detained as a minor and has never been tried or charged, was released to Pakistan along with five other Pakistani prisoners. However, on their return to their own country, they have been imprisoned by the authorities there and there have been some claims of rough treatment. They now face trial in Pakistan with a hearing scheduled for late January.
There is no monthly “Shut Down Guantánamo!” in January. Instead, please join us on Saturday 11 January at 2-4pm outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square for a demonstration to mark 12 years of Guantánamo Bay. Details here: http://londonguantanamocampaign.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/london-marks-12-years-of-guantanamo-bay.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/246710665485484/
Friday, November 29, 2013
|LGC monthly demo, 7 November|
Shaker Aamer’s wife, father-in-law and daughter met with Foreign Secretary William Hague in early November to discuss progress on efforts to release him to the UK. Mr Hague wrote to Shaker Aamer last month; he has received the letter and replied. His MP Jane Ellison has also recently met American ambassador Matthew Barzun to discuss cooperation on his case.
On 17 November, CBS TV show 60 Minutes showed interviews and footage of Guantánamo Bay http://www.cbsnews.com/news/life-at-gitmo/ which included Shaker Aamer shouting out to reporters: “Please we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace or either tell the world the truth. Open up the place, let the world come and visit!” He also added: “You cannot walk even half a metre without being chained. Is that a human being? That's the treatment of an animal.”
|rally for Shaker Aamer|
The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign held a march and rally for Shaker Aamer to mark 12 years of his detention in Battersea on 23 November. Several dozen people joined the march and the rally was well attended, with speakers including politicians John McDonnell MP, MEP Jean Lambert and a representative from Jane Ellison MP’s office, journalists Victoria Brittain and Andy Worthington, and organisations such as the CND and STWC. Aisha Maniar from the LGC addressed the rally, singling out the media for its failure to report on Shaker Aamer’s case or what happens at Guantánamo Bay, and its partial and inaccurate reporting when it does. The rally was poorly attended by mainstream media, who are largely responsible for the fact that few people know about Shaker Aamer’s plight and that of the other 163 prisoners.
Media from the day:
Although the US military officially declared the mass hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay to have ended in September, having fallen to 11 prisoners on hunger strike and being force fed at the beginning of this month, that number has recently started to rise again to 15, all of whom are being force fed, according to the Miami Herald newspaper, which has been tracking the hunger strike:
A new report, Ethics Abandoned, published on 4 November by a 20-person independent panel of health experts accused doctors and psychologists working in the US military and CIA detention centres of having “violated standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm. The Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers (see attached) concludes that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA improperly demanded that U.S. military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S. custody.”
The report lists practices that include the “designing, participating in, and enabling torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners, and recommends that medical practitioners follow professional codes of ethics and that their professional and governing bodies strengthen their commitment to such ethics.
Former prisoners Australian David Hicks and Canadian Omar Khadr, who were both convicted by a military tribunal, have formally started proceedings to appeal their convictions in the US courts. David Hicks was held at Guantánamo Bay for 5 years and was convicted on material support charges, which last year a US federal appeals court found to be a retroactive application of a law that did not exist at the time, in the successful appeal filed by former Bin Laden driver, Salim Hamdan.
Omar Khadr, the only person since World War II to have been convicted before a war crimes tribunal for offences committed as a minor, was held in Guantánamo Bay for almost 10 years, before being released to Canada in September 2012, where he is serving the rest of his sentence. Hicks too was detained upon his return to Australia and the governments of both Commonwealth countries were complicit in the prolonged ordeal of their citizens at Guantánamo Bay. Both men argue that a plea bargain was their only way out of Guantánamo Bay. Hicks has argued that he entered an “Alford plea” whereby, in US law, he pleaded guilty to an offence in a criminal court but he did not admit the act and asserts his innocence. David Hicks spoke about his case and the lasting impact of Guantánamo to Australian TV:
Although in Hicks’ case, the court has allowed the case fully, Khadr’s case could drag on for much longer as the court has asked first for consideration of whether or not the case can even be brought, given that part of the plea bargain was that he would not appeal the secret deal. Although Hicks’ case involved a similar clause, his lawyers claim it was not binding.
As well as launching this US appeal, Omar Khadr has launched an appeal in the Canadian courts against the decision not to transfer him to a federal prison. He has been held in maximum security facilities since his return to the country. His lawyer, Dennis Edney, is appealing on the basis that the judge ““erred in his interpretation” of International Transfer of Offenders Act when he denied Khadr’s request to be transferred to a provincial jail”. Khadr’s lawyers argue that his detention is illegal as he committed the offences as a minor and his detention should be considered on that basis.
Award-winning jazz musician, composer and singer Esperanza Spalding has released a new music video “We Are America” in response to the ongoing abuse of prisoners and the hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay. In the video, she is joined by fellow musicians Stevie Wonder, Janelle Morae and Harry Belafonte. You can hear her catchy message for justice and freedom here, and read an interview in which she explains why she recorded the track: https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/watch-esperanza-spalding-protests-guantanamo-injustice-new-music-video
Some political progress has been made on closing Guantánamo this month with the recently appointed envoys for the closure of Guantánamo Clifford Sloan and Paul Lewis visiting the facility and on 25 November, the US Senate passed amendments to the military authorisation bill that would make it easier for Barack Obama to transfer prisoners to the US and abroad.
Following years of similar reports, it has now been admitted that the CIA ran a secret prison within Guantánamo called “Penny Lane”, after the Beatles’ song, which served as a facility to turn prisoners into double agents working for the CIA after early release.
The African Commission of Human Rights heard its first court case concerning extraordinary rendition on 1 November. Sitting in Gambia, and hearing a case brought before the court against Djibouti by a Yemeni national, 49-year old businessman Mohammed Abdullah Saleh al-Asad, who was kidnapped in Tanzania (where he resided) in 2003, “rendered” and tortured by CIA interrogators in Djibouti and Afghanistan, before being returned to Yemen in 2005 after the CIA realised he has no connections to terrorism. The Yemeni authorities continued to hold him until mid-2006.
Similar to the cases of Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Nashiri, both currently facing trial and potentially the death penalty at Guantánamo Bay, against Poland for torture and facilitating rendition, which will be heard on 3 December by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), such courts offer the only avenue for victims to seek redress. Such actions would be impossible against the US directly, in view of the “state secrets doctrine”, which would block any case being brought. Instead, victims are resorting to courts with broader jurisdictions to make claims against states that colluded with the US. States such as Poland have repeated refused to and/or failed to investigate their own collusion in crimes against humanity. An application by Poland in October to have parts of the cases heard in closed, secret session was turned down by the ECtHR. However, “the court will hold an additional hearing, behind closed doors, a day earlier, the spokeswoman said, adding that the proceedings of that hearing "are confidential, and no public statement will be made about their nature or content."”
The November monthly “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demonstration was held on 7 November. Seven people joined the protest. The December demonstration will be at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, opposite Marble Arch, Hyde Park, on Thursday 5 December: https://www.facebook.com/events/268246853323758/
On 12 November, Dan Viesnik from the LGC contributed to an Islam Channel programme, “Analysis” on medical ethics and torture in US military detention facilities, alongside Polly Rossdale from Reprieve and Makbool Javaid from Cageprisoners:
|Cakes donated to LGC by a supporter|
|Cakes donated to LGC by a supporter|
At the rally for Shaker Aamer on 23 November, at the LGC stall, supporters of our campaign made and donated cakes for sale, as well as some artworks, which helped us to raise around £100 for our campaign. The LGC is a self-funded organisation and any donations – of funds/time – to our completely voluntary work are much appreciated.
The LGC has now announced details of its demonstration to mark 12 years of the opening of Guantánamo Bay on Saturday 11 January:https://www.facebook.com/events/246710665485484/
Thursday, October 31, 2013
An appeal case, involving British residents Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha, was heard on 18 October against the use of force feeding of hunger strikers at Guantánamo Bay. They, and a third prisoner, argued that the procedure is "inhumane, degrading and a violation of medical ethics”, as well as being illegal. The Department of Defense has also reported that the two men are no longer on hunger strike. Fourteen other prisoners are reported to still be on hunger strike.
Ali Hamza Al Bahlul, a Yemeni prisoner convicted with a life sentence by a Guantánamo military tribunal in November 2008 for conspiracy, soliciting murder and providing material support for terrorism, had a retrial of his case, after his conviction was overturned on appeal in January 2013. The one day hearing of legal arguments on 30 September saw some of the previous arguments concerning whether conspiracy and material support for terrorism are war crimes expanded. It is likely that even if the US government wins the case in the retrial, the case will go to the Supreme Court where Al Bahlul may succeed in having his conviction overturned once and for all. The outcome of his case will have serious consequences for the ongoing 9/11 trial at Guantánamo and appeals by other prisoners who have been convicted.
The US government has dropped its objection to a habeas corpus plea and a judge has ordered that Sudanese prisoner Ibrahim Idris be released. Idris, who is schizophrenic, was diagnosed with mental illness shortly after his arrival at Guantánamo Bay. This has not prevented the US from holding him without charge or trial for nearly 12 years. The US government finally conceded that “he is far too sick” to continue being held at Guantánamo. He also suffers from various other illnesses and has spent most of his time there in the psychiatric ward.
On 7 October, following recent positive measures by the Kuwait government, including a meeting between the Emir of Kuwait and Barack Obama on the two remaining Kuwaitis in Guantánamo Bay, Fawzi Al-Odah and Fayiz Al-Kandari, the two men have decided to withdraw a lawsuit in Kuwait to sue the government there for failing to take action on their behalf. The Kuwaiti government has recently made the release of these two men, held without charge or trial, a priority.
Paul M Lewis, a senior White House lawyer, was appointed a special envoy for Guantanamo Bay closure at the Pentagon on 8 October, a position he assumes from 1 November. He will work alongside Clifford Sloan, his counterpart at the State Department on this issue and the transfer of prisoners held in Afghanistan. In spite of new promises made by Barack Obama earlier this year, progress has been slow on releasing prisoners and reviewing their cases. www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/8/hagel-appoints-envoy-closing-guantanamo-bay/
On 9 October, the Department of Defense announced that it was relaunching its periodic review of the cases of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/10/relaunch-of-the-gtmo-periodic-review-boards/
Following a hearing last month, an Edmonton judge has ruled against the transfer of Omar Khadr to a provincial jail. He is currently being held at a maximum security prison, and will not have the opportunity for parole, even though he would otherwise have been eligible in March. Lawyers for Khadr had argued that he was illegally being held as an adult for offences committed as a minor. In a clearly political ruling, the judge said that his decision was not about “a number of matters” that included a conviction before a military tribunal whose judgments even the US federal courts do not agree with and a conviction obtained through the use of torture.
In the ongoing 9/11 case at Guantánamo Bay, in which pre-trial hearings resumed on 21 October, issues about the use of torture in procuring evidence were raised. One of the defendants claims he suffers ongoing pain and illness as a result of the torture he was subjected to. Other issues related to torture were also raised. Lawyers for the men are also seeking the declassification of CIA documents and records concerning their clients, without which they claim they cannot mount an effective defence. Earlier in the month, the judge said that he would not allow technological issues to set back the trial. The next pre-trial hearing in the case of Abd Al-Nashiri has been set back to December, although it should have been held in early November.
The appeal against the conviction of former Guantánamo prisoner, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the only prisoner to be tried before a civil court in New York, for his involvement in the bombing of two US Embassies in east Africa in 1998, was dismissed. He was convicted in 2010, and was held in secret prisons where he was tortured before arriving at Guantánamo in 2006. He claimed that the delay in bringing him to trial and the conditions of his detention prior to trial denied him the right to a speedy trial. His lawyer has said he will appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi has reported that Yemen is planning to build a rehabilitation centre for any prisoners returned from Guantánamo Bay and laid the blame for delays in the return of prisoners on the US and what it expected for prisoners to be returned home.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has demanded to know what measures the US has taken to address the demands of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay, and has found the response to be a “systematic violation of human rights”. The Commission has not been able to meet prisoners but is hoping to investigate further why the US government has failed to take action to close Guantánamo. It condemned the force feeding of prisoners as cruel and inhumane treatment.
Having been asked last month to reopen its investigations into torture prisons run for the CIA, particularly in respect to the torture faced by Mustafa Al-Hawsawi, one of the current defendants in the 9/11 case before the Guantánamo military tribunal, the Lithuanian authorities have again refused to investigate allegations of torture, in spite of new evidence having come to light, claiming that “that they [human rights NGOs] had failed to “prove” that al-Hawsawi was transported to Lithuania between 2004 and 2006, and illegally detained and tortured there”, even though it is the public prosecutor’s job to do that. The rejection letter from the public prosecutor was dated just one day after a meeting with European human rights NGOs on the matter.
Demonstrating that the US practice of extraordinary rendition is still very much alive and operational, on 5 October, an alleged Al Qaeda operative known as Abu Anas Al Libi was kidnapped in broad daylight in Tripoli by US army forces with the assistance of the FBI and the CIA. Operating outside of the law when kidnapping a foreign national in a foreign state, although the Libyan government denies any knowledge of and has not disputed this breach of its sovereignty, he was then held on board a US warship, the USS San Antonio, in the Mediterranean Sea. Having “disappeared” briefly during this time, he may well have been tortured, although no details have emerged of his treatment. He was then brought to court in New York on 15 October and indicted on charges related to terrorism, to which he pleaded not guilty. Questions remain unanswered about the illegal manner in which the US chose to proceed. Britain may well have a role to play in the matter after it emerged that Al-Libi was given asylum in the UK, even though he has been on the US’ “10 most wanted” list since 2001. The kidnapping in Libya was parallel to a failed similar operation in Somalia.
The European Parliament has again, in a new resolution, called on member states to end impunity for involvement in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme. MEPs stated that they were “highly disappointed” by the lack of response by states to a resolution last year demanding that states take action. The EU Parliament wants its own powers to investigate to be reinforced and “The resolution makes specific calls on Lithuania, Romania, Poland, the UK, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Slovakia. For example, it asks the UK authorities to establish a "human-rights-compliant inquiry" into the rendition, torture and ill-treatment of detainees abroad.”
Following Poland’s failure to make progress in the investigation of torture and torture facilities in the country, two cases have been referred to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg by current Guantánamo prisoners Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Nashiri, both currently facing trial at Guantánamo. The court, demonstrating to its members how speedily justice should be administered, will hear the cases on 2-3 December. Poland, however, has asked for the trial to be heard in secret to protect its interests.
At the end of this month, Poland granted “injured person” status to a third prisoner who was held at a secret CIA-run prison there, Walid Bin Attash, who is currently held at Guantánamo Bay. This is a positive step as “Under Polish law an “injured person” may review files as well as make a complaint concerning refusal to disclose documents. He has also the right to challenge delays in the proceedings.”
On 21 October, a case was heard at the High Court in London concerning the British government’s involvement in the rendition in 2004 from Malaysia to Libya of Libyan politician Abdel Hakim Belhadj and his wife Fatima Bouchar, who was pregnant at the time. The British government argued that the case should be thrown out as it could damage US-UK relations and may seek to have parts of the case heard in secret under the Justice and Security Act 2013, which would exclude both Belhadj and the public from knowing those parts of the case. Allegations made by Belhadj and his family were confirmed after documents demonstrating MI6’s direct involvement were found in Tripoli following the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
The October monthly “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demonstration was held on 3 October. Three people joined the protest which coincided with National Poetry Day and poems were read out by Val Brown, Dan Viesnik and Noel Hamel by the Shaker Aamer, his children, and Talha Ahsan.
The November demonstration will be at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, opposite Marble Arch, Hyde Park, on Thursday 7 November: https://www.facebook.com/events/195115897339394/
The London Guantánamo Campaign contributed to a conference on the future of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign powers in 2014. In the afternoon, Aisha Maniar, Val Brown and Noel Hamel from the LGC held two workshops on torture prisons and extraordinary rendition relating to Afghanistan and beyond which were well attended and at which a good discussion was held on the issues involved.
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) has published its annual report of actions across the globe to mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June. Please turn to page 29 of the report to see our contribution in London: