Thursday, July 28, 2011

LGC Newsletter - July 2011

LGC Newsletter – July 2011


Guantánamo Bay:
Former prisoner, Adel Al-Gazzar, who was arrested and detained promptly on his return to his native Egypt last month, has appealed the charges he was convicted of in absentia in 2002 when he was being held at Guantánamo Bay. It is on the basis of these charges and conviction that he is currently being held. He was not aware of the trial at the time. He is seeking a fair trial, however military prosecutors have rejected his appeal and he remains in detention.

Extraordinary rendition:
At the end of June, the US attorney general Eric Holder announced that he would hold criminal investigations into the deaths of two CIA prisoners held in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002-2003. He also agreed to an investigation into the treatment of prisoners however ruled out any investigations into the deaths of a further 101 prisoners in CIA custody since 2001. The Obama administration has said that it does not intend to prosecute anyone named through the investigations who acted on legal guidance, which authorised the use of waterboarding among other torture techniques, available at the time. The two prisoners whose cases will be investigated are Gul Rahman, who died in a CIA prison in Afghanistan in November 2002 after being chained to a cold cement wall and Manadel Al-Jamadi who died in Abu Ghraib in Iraq in 2003.
More on this news:
Amnesty International UK made the following comment on the US’ failure to investigate its use of torture:

In a new twist on extraordinary rendition, a Somali national appeared before a civilian court in New York in early July on charges of assisting terrorist groups. Pleading not guilty to nine charges, it emerged that Ahmed Abdulkader Warsame, in his mid-20s, was picked up in waters off the Somalia coast on 19 April this year and was held secretly on a US warship and interrogated daily by the CIA for two months before being interrogated again in a manner which could be used as evidence in court by the FBI and then taken to the US and charged. He is alleged not to have been read his legal rights before being questioned. Interrogations are also alleged to have been conducted in line with the Geneva Conventions. This is the first time that a foreign terrorism suspect has been taken to the US; in the past, individuals subject to such interrogations have been taken to Guantánamo Bay. Various politicians in the US have called for him to be tried by a military tribunal at Guantánamo, however a civilian trial is scheduled for early September, just days before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Failing to notice the secret and potentially illegal nature of Mr Warsame’s detention, the media have stated that this arrest, interrogation and forthcoming trial are an indication of how the Obama administration will deal with terrorism suspects. However, the US has been accused of questioning and torturing rendition victims and “ghost prisoners” on board US military ships in the past, in particular around the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned Mr Warsame’s detention and interrogation aboard the warship:
His charges can be read at:
More on this news:

On 6 July, one year to the day that David Cameron announced an inquiry would be held into the British intelligence services’ involvement in torture abroad, the terms of reference and protocols on the treatment of information in the inquiry were published. The Detainee, or Gibson, Inquiry, led by retired judge Sir Peter Gibson is due to start its proceedings later this year. Already subject to much criticism of its narrow scope and failure to consider the issue thoroughly, the terms of reference and protocols have also been criticised, concerning how information will be obtained, how and what information will be kept confidential and the scope of the inquiry to include prisoner transfers. NGOs and other critics feel that as stated the inquiry will be powerless and ineffective in dealing with this crucial issue. The inquiry can be followed on its website:

On 13 July, the Supreme Court ruled that the security services (MI5 and MI6) could not rely on secret evidence procedures in court to conceal evidence of involvement in the torture of detainees. In a case brought by several former Guantánamo prisoners, which ended in an out-of-court settlement in November last year, the procedural issue of whether the security services could rely on closed evidence (withheld from the detainees, their lawyers and the public) in the case, in the interest of national security, was referred to the Supreme Court where the judges held that such use would breach the common law standards of a fair trial. However, the judges warned that parliament could in future legislate to allow the use of secret evidence as it has in other sensitive proceedings. The government is currently seeking to table a green paper, which could become law, on the use of intelligence in court proceedings, which could effectively end any disclosure of evidence, such as that related to what the government and its officials and agents know about the use of torture or their own involvement in it.

LGC Activities:
To mark American Independence Day, a special prisoner solidarity demonstration was held instead of the monthly Shut Down Guantánamo! demonstration. Around 25 people attended and were joined by activists from other campaigns, including the Justice For Aafia Coalition, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and the UK Friends of Bradley Manning. For a report on this event:
This month’s demonstration will be on Friday 5 August at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE and then 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner (Marble Arch)