Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LGC Newsletter – September 2014

Guantánamo Bay:
A US navy nurse who refused to force feed hunger striking prisoners at Guantánamo is continuing to face persecution from the US military. Although the military decided not to court martial him for his actions, thereby not making any details of the hunger strike and the feeding procedure public, as would result from a trial, he faces disciplinary measures, which could include him losing his job and his benefits. The nurse’s humane gesture came to light earlier this year when a hunger-striking prisoner wrote to his lawyer praising the nurse’s action.

On 15 September, pre-trial hearings started in the case of Abdel Hadi Al-Iraqi who faces a life sentence for war crimes; he is alleged to be a senior Al Qaeda commander and to have organised attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004 that killed allied soldiers. He was one of the last prisoners to be brought to Guantánamo in 2007, and had prior to that, after his arrest in 2006, “disappeared” into secret CIA torture prisons.
At the hearing, Al-Iraqi met his military lawyer for the first time. Although his previous lawyer was dismissed, he is still also seeking a civilian lawyer to work on his case, which he is not automatically entitled to, as he is not facing capital charges. At the hearing, the prosecution asked for all details relating to his interrogation to be kept secret. Although the prosecution claims he was not subject to “enhanced interrogation methods”, such as waterboarding, it said it was up to the CIA to say what could be disclosed.

Three prisoners, Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim, Abdurrahman al-Shubati and Fadel Hentif, have applied for an en banc rehearing of a case that was decided by a US federal court of appeal at the beginning of August, ruling that military guards at Guantánamo Bay can carry out intimate physical searches of prisoners, lifting a previous ban. The court had held that the action was not unconstitutional. Counsel for the three prisoners is asking for the case to be heard by all the judges at the same court and questions the interpretation applied by the court.

Lawyers for Canadian former prisoner Omar Khadr headed to the Canadian federal courts in early September to resume a case that was stalled in December last year when the judge said that the lawsuit, first brought suing the Canadian government for involvement in Khadr’s torture in 2004 when he was still held at Guantánamo, had to be rewritten. It was resubmitted and Khadr’s lawyers sought to expand the claims against the Canadian government to include conspiracy by Canada with the US in the abuse of his rights and his torture. Lawyers for the Canadian government said that under Canadian federal law, the US government could not be brought into a civil claim and that this issue could be dealt with under the existing claims. The judge reserved judgment on the case.

While Uruguay waits to receive the 6 Guantánamo prisoners it has said it will take as refugees, the government of Peru has ruled out taking any Guantánamo prisoners, following a US request. http://www.peruviantimes.com/19/peru-says-no-to-guantanamo-prisoners/22916/ The Chilean government has also said that taking Guantánamo prisoners “is not a priority” for the country after weighing up a similar request.

Lawyers for the US government are seeking to keep proceedings secret in a court hearing to be held in early October concerning the force feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The lawyers claim that it is a matter of national security. The case brought by Syrian hunger striker Abu Wael Dhiab concerns the methods used against the prisoners and the forced feeding against their will to keep them alive. This is illegal, when carried out on a rational prisoner, almost everywhere else in the world. Earlier this year, an emergency injunction to halt his force feeding was soon overturned but the government was asked to disclose tapes showing the force feeding. While lawyers on both sides will be heard at the hearing, US government lawyers are seeking to keep the public and the media out.

Extraordinary Rendition:
The US released 14 Pakistani prisoners from Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Although it handed authority over the prison to the Afghan authorities last year, the US has maintained control over up to 60 foreign nationals, mainly Pakistanis. This is the largest group of prisoners, who have less rights than Guantánamo prisoners, to be released in one go. Over the past year, 39 Pakistanis are known to have been released from Bagram, in most cases only to face further persecution once back in their own country. Two Yemenis and a Kazakh prisoner were also released last month. The actual number of prisoners and the conditions and reasons for their detention are highly guarded secrets by the US military.
With the US officially ending its involvement in the war in Afghanistan at the end of this year, even though it plans to keep 10,000 troops there, the future of the remaining Bagram prisoners remains unknown. Transfer to Guantánamo is unlikely but the US intends to maintain control over them.

LGC Activities:
The September “Shut Guantánamo!” demonstration was attended by 8 people. The October demonstration will be at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch on Thursday 2nd October: https://www.facebook.com/events/1446269325597802/

As part of a government consultation on anti-terrorism laws, one of our activists recently corresponded with David Anderson QC, the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, about Shaker Aamer: http://londonguantanamocampaign.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/david-anderson-qc-shaker-aamer-and-anti.html Their correspondence and Anderson’s referral to sources that suggest practices that would be illegal in this country, such as prolonged detention without trial or charge, speak volumes about the government’s actual attitude to Guantánamo prisoners such as Mr Aamer.
The IRCT in Copenhagen, which coordinates the actions worldwide on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, published its annual report of actions and features our London action on pages 34-35:

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