‘Tortured’ Pakistani must be freed from Guantanamo – UN body
A Pakistani man imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since 2006 should be released immediately and given a right to compensation, as his detention violates international human rights, a UN working group said.
Ammar Al-Baluchi, a Kuwaiti-born Pakistani citizen also known as Abdul Aziz Ali, allegedly conspired with his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was accused of being the architect of the 9/11 attacks. Al-Baluchi was accused of providing money to the 9/11 hijackers.
Holding Al-Baluchi at the US detention camp in Cuba is “arbitrary, breaches international human rights law and has no legal basis,” the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said on Wednesday.
"Mr. al Baluchi has been subject to prolonged detention on discriminatory grounds," said the group of five independent experts who report to the UN Human Rights Council. He should be released and offered “physical and psychological rehabilitation for the torture he had previously suffered,” the panel added.
The group’s opinion follows the condemnation of Al-Baluchi’s treatment by the US in December 2017 from the UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer.
“Mr. al-Baluchi has been held in isolation at a severely restricted-access facility at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade,” Melzer said, adding that "noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention."
The CIA has been accused of using the offshore prison to employ brutal ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ which constitute torture. These techniques were officially banned by former President Barack Obama in 2009, but they have persisted well into 2017 with impunity for perpetrators, according to Melzer.
President Donald Trump has affirmed his commitment to keeping the detention facility open. While he delivered the State of the Union address in 2018, the White House issued an executive order stating that US operations at Guantanamo will continue “given that a number of the remaining individuals at the detention facility are being prosecuted in military commissions, while others must be detained to protect against continuing, significant threats to the security of the United States, as determined by periodic reviews.”
There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 3 January 2017
Obama aimed to close the detention facility during his eight-year term, but ran into opposition from Congress and the Pentagon. He did, however, reduce the inmate population to 41.
The camp was first opened by former President George W. Bush as part of the ‘War on Terror,’ in order to hold suspected terrorists captured overseas after the September 11 attack in 2001. Since then, almost 800 prisoners have been detained and, in some instances, tortured in the detention camp. The majority of prisoners were never charged with any crime.
Many prisoners resorted to hunger strikes in protest of their detention, the conditions at the facility and the way they were treated. In August 2013, the strike peaked with 37 detainees on hunger strikes after nearly seven months without food.
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