Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

18 January 2008

Six years from home – Guantánamo detainees from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Six years from home – Guantánamo detainees from Bosnia and Herzegovina

“I am going back to my wife and children, and you are going back to your cell like a dog.”

Reported statement of US interrogator to Belkacem Bensayeh

Unlike his US interrogator, Belkacem Bensayeh has little hope that he will soon return home to his wife and children.  It is now six years since he was seized in Bosnia and Herzegovina and handed over to US forces along with five other men of Algerian origin.   All remain held in Guantánamo. None have been charged with any crime. None have been able to challenge the lawfulness of his detention in court.

Despite suffering from numerous ailments, Belkacem Bensayeh is refusing medical treatment at Guantánamo as he does not trust the staff or the facilities.  He is currently held in Camp 6, where he spends at least 22 hours a day in a solid steel cell with no natural light.

Another of the men, Lakhdar Boumedienne, has been participating in a hunger strike for over a year to protest his illegal detention.  He is being force-fed daily while strapped in a restraint chair.  His lawyers have told Amnesty International that letters from his young daughters, begging him to stop his hunger strike, have been withheld from him by the Guantánamo authorities.

The other four detainees are Hadj Boudella, Mohamed Nechle, Saber Lahmar and Mustafa Ait Idir.  

Click on the pictures to the right to watch a slideshow with images of the six men prior their detention.       

Illegally transferred to Guantánamo

The handing over of the six men to US custody and their subsequent transfer to Guantánamo took place in 2002. This was despite an order of 17 January 2002 by the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to immediately release them and a provisional order by the Human Rights Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina to prevent their deportation, expulsion or extradition.  

In 2002 and 2003, the Human Rights Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled again that the transfer of the six men was illegal and urged the authorities to take action to protect the rights of the men.

Amnesty International is calling on US authorities to release all Guantánamo detainees immediately unless they are to be charged and given a fair trial.  

The Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities have acknowledged their responsibility in the illegal transfer of the six men.  They must now do all they can to ensure that, unless the US authorities promptly charge the men and bring them to trial in an independent an impartial court, they are released from Guantánamo and allowed to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina. They must not be forcibly sent to Algeria or any other state where they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

What you can do

Sign up to Amnesty International's framework for ending US illegal detentions, the first step of which is closing Guantánamo.

“Many thanks for all your support during the last 6 years in the fight to free the so called ‘Algerian Six’. I can not really find the words to express my gratitude but whenever I feel down and alone, a letter of support would arrive from one of you and my spirit would rise and I would gain a new strength to continue the struggle…”
Nadja Dizdarevic, wife of Guantánamo detainee Boudella el Hajj.



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