Wednesday, November 30, 2016

LGC Newsletter – November 2016

Guantánamo Bay:
The first round of periodic review board hearings and recommendations to see whether prisoners who have not been charged or approved for release can be released or continue to be held as “forever prisoners” concluded in November with a Saudi prisoner being cleared for release through this administrative procedure. Jabran Qahtani, 39, who has been held at Guantánamo since 2002 became the 21st prisoner cleared for release. An engineering graduate, he was initially charged at Guantánamo but legal proceedings were quickly dropped. He has been recommended for transfer to Saudi Arabia only. At the same time, the board rejected the release of Yemeni prisoner Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah, 47. He will come before the review board for a second hearing on 8 December.
At the same time, as those prisoners whose pleas for release were rejected by the board in the first round generally had to wait 6 months before being entitled to appear before the board again, the second round of hearings started in early November with Yemeni Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei'i, who arrived at Guantánamo aged just 22 in 2002 the first person to have a second hearing.
The review is also expected to rehear the case of the oldest prisoner at Guantánamo, 69-year old Pakistani Saifulla Paracha soon. His case was rejected in April and is now due for rehearing. Deemed a continuing threat at his last hearing, Paracha has diabetes and a heart condition.
Some of the second round reviews are full hearings where prisoners can address the board and others are case hearings where the documents used for the initial assessment are reviewed.
Other prisoners who have had a second round full review over the past month include Yemeni Yassin Qasem Muhammad Ismail, 36.
Yemeni Moath Hamza Ahmed Al-Alwi came before the board for a second time on 10 November

The US authorities are currently trying to have one Malaysian and one Indonesian prisoner sent to Malaysia. In the case of the Indonesian, Hambali, allegedly the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings, his US lawyers are asking Australia to take him and try him for the case. The US cannot try him due to the extreme torture he has suffered following his 2003 kidnapping and in Malaysia he is unlikely to receive a fair trial and is likely to face the death penalty as well. Considered a dangerous terrorist, he has never been charged and any confessions he has made were under duress of torture.

Extraordinary rendition:
On 14 November, in its annual Preliminary Examination Report on Afghanistan, the International Criminal Court stated that the Office of The Prosecutor has determined that there are credible grounds to believe and investigate that war crimes have been committed in Afghanistan by the Taleban, Afghan intelligence authorities and the police, other government and independent militias and “US military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, principally in the 2003-2004 period, although allegedly continuing in some cases until 2014.” An investigation is likely into the crimes against humanity, including torture and ill-treatment committed by the parties.

Since 2009, Spain’s Supreme Court had been investigating torture claims brought against Bush-era officials by former Guantánamo prisoners under Spain’s universal jurisdiction laws, which allow crimes against humanity, such as torture, to be tried there even though they were not committed in the state due to their severity. Due to changes in the law restricting such claims the court finally ruled, following many appeals that it does not have the power to try such claims and closed the case. At the same time, Spain’s own complicity in Guantánamo continues as two former prisoners remain in jail there on dubious charges (and a conviction in one case) related to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Documents revealed through a freedom of information lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union show that the US Federal Bureau of Prisons visited the CIA’s secret torture facilities in Afghanistan in 2002 at the expense of the US taxpayer, was aware of the torture there and tried to cover up the visit. Two employees were sent to the Afghan facilities and later praised these torture jails where prisoners were kept shackled to walls or the floor in complete darkness.

LGC Activities:
The November Shut Guantánamo demonstration was replaced by a special demonstration to coincide with the US presidential elections. The LGC was not surprised by the election of Donald Trump and will wait to see what policies he has with respect to Guantánamo as of January 2017. Barack Obama has failed to close Guantánamo and it is unlikely that any new president is likely to implement positive change in this respect. A report of the demonstration at which we were joined by around 30 people and had a number of speakers from other campaigns:

The last Shut Guantánamo! Demo of 2016 and under Barack Obama’s presidency is on Thursday 1 December at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy London and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch, Hyde Park:

The LGC (@shutguantanamo) is continuing to hold weekly #GitmObama Twitter storms to raise awareness about Guantánamo prisoners every Monday at 9pm BST. The pastebin is available which is updated weekly with the latest information and tweets to raise awareness about Guantánamo. Please join us online if you can!

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