NEW YORK, NY -- April 13 -- The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urges the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice to respond to attorneys demands for information about the severe torture allegations and U.S. policy of torture at the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba. |
Filing a major lawsuit against the U.S. government today, lawyers for six Bosnian Guantánamo detainees accused the Department of Defense and Department of Justice of refusing to release information about severe torture conducted at the U.S. military base. In the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston, the lawyers made shocking new allegations of torture of detainees by U.S. forces, including severe beatings that resulted in facial paralysis for one prisoner, chemical irritant gassing, near suffocation by repeatedly ramming a prisoners head into a toilet, and religious persecution by forced removal of clothing required for prayer.
According to the legal documents, the government has refused to respond to detailed FOIA requests served in September 2004.
Barbara Olshansky, Director Counsel of CCRs Global Justice Initiative, stated, The allegations of chemical gassing and brutal beatings, combined with the evidence of abuse disclosed in FOIA litigation and confirmed by other detainees, reveal a policy of torture and abuse at Guantanamo that is beyond the scope of what we could have imagined. The only recourse to ensure government accountability for these awful and immoral actions is a full independent investigation into the torture allegations at Guantánamo and other overseas U.S. detention facilities. This investigation is long overdue. Americans across the country have been calling for it and it must start now.
Gitanjali Gutierrez, CCR cooperating counsel, added, Since meeting my firms clients in Guantánamo last September, it has been my view that the information about prisoner abuse trickling out of Guantánamo is only the tip of the iceberg. The torture of the Bosnian detainees has come to light through the tireless efforts of their dedicated counsel. The American public can no longer tolerate the secrecy that the Department of Defense and Department of Justice have drawn around their criminal conduct.
Beginning in February of 2002, CCR filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights protesting the arbitrary detention of the Guantanamo detainees and the treatment they were receiving in confinement. In March 13, 2002, the hemispheres highest human rights body issued a decision directing the United States to take urgent measure to determine the legal status of the hundreds of individuals held in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo.