For Immediate Release
D.C. Circuit Court Decision Refuses to Allow Advance Notice Before a Guantanamo Detainee is Transferred
Decision Would Increase the Risk of Illegal Transfers to Torture
WASHINGTON - Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia issued its opinion in Kiyemba v. Obama. The Court vacated the
district court decision, which had required the government to give
thirty days advance notice before an individual is transferred from
Guantánamo. The Court held that it could not test the Executive's
promise not to transfer someone to a country where he could be tortured.
In response, Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Emi MacLean, issued the following statement:
For the past four and a half years, approximately sixty men imprisoned
in Guantánamo have relied upon the U.S. federal courts to protect them
from the military transferring them to a country where they are likely
to be tortured. Today, the court has abdicated its role in safeguarding
individuals in U.S. custody from transfers to torture.
Egregiously, the court has done so based upon nothing more than the Executive's promise
not to send an individual to a place where he will be tortured. In the
long ugly history of U.S. detention at Guantánamo, the Executive has
made repeated hollow promises that "we do not torture." "Trust the
President" is not enough in 2009 to prevent U.S. complicity in torture
and to protect an individual's rights.
CCR's client Abdul
Ra'ouf Qassim was told he could leave Guantánamo years ago. Yet he is
Libyan and had nowhere safe to go. The U.S. government twice tried to
transfer him to Libya where he would have disappeared into a Libyan
jail and been subjected to torture. It was only the court's
intervention which prevented Abdul Ra'ouf's disappearance.
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Like many other Guantánamo detainees, Abdul Ra'ouf has made the
difficult "choice" to remain imprisoned in Guantánamo rather than face
persecution or torture in his home country because his fear was so
strong. He has reached out to the Swiss government to come to his aid
and allow him to restart his life.
Today's decision creates a
crisis for the sixty men in Guantánamo who cannot return to their home
countries and seek humanitarian protection. It is urgent that countries
intervene to provide safe haven for these men. Guantánamo can no longer
be seen as purely a U.S. problem. It is an international dilemma
demanding an international solution. Closing Guantánamo cannot result
in disappearing people into countries where they fear torture or
persecution. Guantánamo detainees seeking safe haven are from Algeria,
Azerbaijan, China, Libya, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Russia,
Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan
Administration created a lawless zone that damaged our Nation's
reputation and harmed countless lives, and the new Administration
promised to return the United States to the rule of law. If President
Obama intends to close Guantanamo legally and humanely, he must commit
to not transfer people to torture - as a matter of law, not hollow
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