Human rights organization Reprieve, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and co-counsel have filed a mass legal challenge to Donald Trump’s continued detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
The filing – made on behalf of 11 prisoners, on the 16th anniversary of Guantánamo’s opening – argues that the continued detention of people without charge at the prison is unconstitutional, because any legitimate rationale for initially detaining them has long since expired.
Some of the prisoners participating in today’s filing have been detained in Guantánamo for nearly 16 years, without charge or trial. Two of the petitioners – Reprieve clients Abdul Latif Nasser and Towfiq Bihani – have been approved for transfer, narrowly missing their chance at release in the final days of the Obama administration.
Commenting, Reprieve attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis – who represents several prisoners at Guantánamo participating in the filing – said:
“Since Guantánamo opened, it’s been clear to all – including U.S. officials – that the detainees were being held on the basis of mistakes, faulty evidence, and forced ‘confessions’. The US has had 16 years to build a case against these men, and yet 28 of 41 prisoners are held without charge or a trial of any kind – a shocking violation of America’s founding principles. If the President won’t close Guantánamo, then the other branches of government must take action instead to finally restore the rule of law.”
CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, who represents Sharqawi Al Hajj, one of the prisoners participating in today’s filing, said:
“It’s clear that a man who thinks we should water-board terror suspects even if it doesn’t work, because ‘they deserve it, anyway’ has no qualms about keeping every last detainee in Guantanamo, so long as he holds the jailhouse key. Continuing, still indefinite detention after all this time is unprecedented and experimental. Another three or seven years under President Trump may mean a death sentence for men like Sharqawi Al Hajj, who is in poor health and damaged by past torture.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
2. Today’s legal filing is available on request.
3. On 11 January 2002, US authorities opened the detention facility at Guantánamo, where at least 780 men would ultimately be held. Today, 41 men are still detained; 28 have never been charged with a crime.
4. Reprieve’s clients at Guantánamo have recently reported being denied medical treatment, and subjected to fresh abuses. These compound the recent history of US torture in detention, including those practices outlined in the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA detention and interrogation.