Guantanamo 101: a beginner’s guide to America’s illegal prison

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Guantanamo Bay has become an enduring symbol of injustice in our time. It stands for torture, abuse and indefinite detention without charge or trial. A total of 780 detainees have been held there – and 15 years on it remains open with 41 men still being detained.

The Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The bill gives wide-ranging powers to the President to carry out military operations abroad without proper oversight from lawmakers. Over the years it has been used as the basis for abduction, rendition, torture and detention in Guantanamo Bay.

Reprieve has been fighting for the detainees held in Guantanamo since the day it opened, and we’ve freed more than any other organization – even those many times our size.

Here we bring you the facts about Guantanamo, and the first-hand experiences of those who have actually been there- current and former detainees, and our lawyers who fight for them. Below you can read stories of attempted acts of kindness and acts of defiance, accounts of what it’s like to go to Guantanamo and what it’s like to leave. What it’s like to sit in front of a shackled detainee who is supposed to be the ‘worst of the worst’ and what it’s like to find out they’re anything but.



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The Facts:

The US government once claimed that Guantanamo held the ‘worst of the worst’. They claimed that no children were detained in the camp. We now know that these were all lies. You can get the facts about Guantanamo Bay below.

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Stories from our work:

We have been fighting for the detainees held in Guantanamo since the day it opened. Below you can read first-hand accounts of the detention center from Reprieve’s lawyers, including our founder Clive Stafford Smith, and Reprieve US attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis.


In their own words:

Over the last 15 years, Guantanamo has held 780 men, and each has their own story. The US government has been determined to silence them, and we have been determined to make their stories heard. Below you can read first-hand accounts of life in Guantanamo, written by former detainees.



Life After Guantanamo:

Our work doesn’t end at Guantanamo’s gates. Reprieve also helps former detainees once they have been release. Our ‘Life After Guantanamo’ program is the only dedicated rehabilitation project for detainees freed from Guantanamo Bay.

The Life After Guantanamo program helps people like Mohammed el Gharani, who was only 14 years old when he was rendered to Guantanamo. After we secured Mohammed’s freedom in 2009, our Life After Guantanamo began helping Mohammed to rebuild his life. As part of this program, our supporters have sent him books so that he can get the education he missed out on, and have helped to pay for his emergency medical treatment.


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