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2 May 2008

USA: Release or fair trials for all remaining Guantánamo detainees

As nine more detainees were freed from Guantánamo, Amnesty International today reiterated that the Guantánamo detentions are a travesty of justice. The US administration must either bring to fair trial or release, with full protections against further abuse, the 270 detainees still held there.

The nine men were the first to be released from the naval base this year. Among them is Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj, held without charge at the Guantánamo Bay prison for almost six years. Amnesty International remains particularly concerned for his health and well-being after his years of indefinite detention and other alleged abuses, including in the context of his prolonged hunger-striking.

Sami al-Hajj was repatriated with two other Sudanese nationals held at Guantánamo, Yacoub al-Amir and Walid Ali.  Sami al-Hajj was taken straight from the plane to hospital on a stretcher.

A fourth detainee, Saïd Boujaâdia, was returned to Morocco, where he is reported to have been taken into custody by the judicial police in Casablanca. Amnesty International will continue to monitor his situation and calls on the Moroccan authorities to ensure that his treatment fully complies with international law. He should be given access to legal counsel and independent medical care, and either charged promptly with recognizable criminal offences and brought to fair trial, or released.

Five detainees were also transferred to Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.  Amnesty International has no further details on these detainees at this stage. It similarly calls on the Afghan authorities to ensure that all treatment and any trials of returned detainees fully comply with international law and standards, and in no way perpetuates the unlawful treatment that the Guantánamo detainees have faced.

“The USA government should abandon its trials by military commissions, which are not independent of the same branch of government that has authorized and condoned abuses against detainees and which may rely on information coerced under ill-treatment,” said Amnesty International.

As well as denying those held at Guantánamo and elsewhere the right to challenge their detentions in an independent and impartial court, in line with the centuries old right to habeas corpus, the US authorities have subjected detainees to treatment and conditions that violate the absolute prohibition on torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  Investigations into such abuses have been inadequate.

“The USA government must permanently close the Guantánamo detention facility, and put an end to the secret detention programme operated by the CIA. The USA must bring all its detentions everywhere into full compliance with international law and standards,” said Amnesty International.

“There must be full accountability for all human rights violations, including the international crimes of torture and enforced disappearance.”

See also:

Who are the Guantánamo detainees? CASE SHEET 16. Sudanese national: Sami al Hajj, 11 January 2006, AI Index: AMR 51/207/2005, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/013/2006/en

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AI Index: PRE01/135/2008
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