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Guantanamo: Extraordinary rendition, torture, eternal detention

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
(FILES) In this file photo screened by US Military officials on September 7, 2021 shows a sign for Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

The alleged September 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four others, appeared in the military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for the first time since the onset of Coronavirus pandemic.

20 years after the attacks, the US military tribunal is still in the pre trial phase of prosecution of the suspects. The five are accused of war crimes in the 911 attacks that killed nearly 3000 people two decades ago, if found guilty, they face the death penalty.

Meanwhile, human rights advocates say the trial is full of legal obstacles and it may never reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The defense attorneys have tried to challenge the military Commission's legitimacy in order to overturn the case by arguing that the CIA tortured the detainees in a secret prison before transferring them to Guantanamo.

The defense lawyers accused the US government of bringing the five suspects to Guantanamo Bay to continue covering up torture. They asserted that government secrecy surrounding the use of torture is the main reason that indefinite detention still exists at Guantanamo Bay.

Since its establishment the notorious prison has been under fire for the so called "enhanced interrogation techniques” used on inmates to force them to confess to crimes they might not even have committed.

Interrogation techniques which international human rights advocates say amount to torture.

Primarily, because it's designed to be an institution through which the US subverts the law, through which the US is able to commit torture, is able, essentially, to go beyond what is usually permissible.

So questions such as the one posed, while it is relevant in an ordinary set of circumstances, in an ordinary concept of the rule of law, the blunt answer is the rule of law and judicial process and the implementation of any judicial process, for the US at least, is irrelevant when it comes to Guantanamo Bay, or at least not a priority.

Sami Hamdi, The International Interest, Editor in Chief

Experts say that at the rate the case is moving there could be another decade of procedural hearings.

The Guantanamo Bay Prison, also known as Gitmo, was established in southern Cuba in January 2002 to hold inmates in a place where neither US nor international law would apply.

Since then, Guantanamo, which at its peak held over 700 inmates, has been synonymous with human rights abuses perpetrated by the US government in the name of the war on terrorism.

However, only seven have been convicted, including five as a result of pretrial agreements under which they pleaded guilty in return for the possibility of being released from the base. Currently nearly 40 inmates are incarcerated in Guantanamo, without charge, stuck in legal limbo, languishing there for nearly two decades.

That's while their proceedings have been delayed at the pre trial stage for several years. This exemplifies why Guantanamo Bay Prison is a symbol of lingering US injustice.

While the Biden administration has said it wants to close the facility, prison officials have confirmed that a $15 million expansion is underway, including the construction of a new courtroom and workspaces.

While it's only because of the power of the United States that it can continue to operate clearly in violation of international law, and people are held without charge In many cases, and so it's just been a travesty, a disaster, a catastrophe, for the people involved in it.

And again, it's, it's clearly not legal for the United States government to do this, to pick up people anywhere in the world, and then to hold them indefinitely, to abuse them, waterboard them, torture them in other ways and then consign them to what seems to be endless imprisonment.

Richard Becker. ANSWER Coalition

With the prisoners stuck in legal limbo, despite the international outcry against torture and injustice, the Guantanamo Bay Prison continues to operate. It looks highly unlikely that Joe Biden will manage to remove what human rights advocates call a stain on America's global image.

 


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