Guantánamo Advocacy at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Since the first men were brought to the offshore prison at Guantánamo Bay in January 2002, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and allies have been advocating on behalf of them domestically and in international fora, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States, of which the United States is a member, and works to protect and promote human rights in the Americas.  
In February 2002, CCR, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and co-petitioners submitted a request to the IACHR to issue Precautionary Measures (PMs) for all detainees at Guantánamo. The request asserted that the PMs would protect their rights, including the right to be treated as prisoners-of-war and to be free from arbitrary, incommunicado, and prolonged detention, unlawful interrogations, and trials by military commission in which they could be sentenced to the death. In March 2002, the IACHR issued PMs urging the U.S. government to clarify “the legal status of the detainees determined by a competent tribunal” so they are “afforded the legal protections commensurate with the status that they are found to possess, which may in no case fall below the minimum standards of non-derogable rights.” Since then, the IACHR has had in place PMs that cover all of the men who continue to be detained at Guantánamo, and at times has expanded the scope of those measures to include requests that the U.S. government ensure the detainees at Guantánamo are not transferred to countries where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other mistreatment and that the prisoners have fair hearings and access to counsel.
As the U.S. government has shirked responsibility for the blatant human rights abuses at the prison over the last decade, CCR has continued to use the IACHR as an international platform to advocate for the men detained at Guantánamo – the overwhelming majority of whom have never been charged with a crime and remain subject to indefinite and arbitrary detention. This forum has also given CCR and allies opportunities to build continuous public pressure on the U.S. government for failing to adhere to international human rights norms with respect to the operation of the prison.
Our involvement with the Commission has included petitions, supplemental responses to requests for updated information, and hearings on behalf of all prisoners at Guantánamo (Detainees in the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, MC-259-02) and individual men (Djamel Ameziane, MC-211-08, P-900-08; Al Zahrani v. United States). In 2020, the IACHR published a historic report in Mr. Ameziane's merits case, determining that the United States is responsible for his torture, abuse, and decade-long confinement without charge, and issued a series of recommendations, including that Mr. Ameziane and other men detained at Guantánamo are entitled to reparations.
 October 2015 IACHR Roundtable Discussion on Guantánamo 
*Detainees held by the U.S. in Guantánamo Bay (Precautionary Measures, MC-259-02)

Precautionary Measures

March 2013 Thematic Hearing

Key IACHR Press Releases and Reports

*Djamel Ameziane (Precautionary Measures, MC-211-08, and Merits Petition 900-08)
*Filings related to Guantánamo Deaths


Last modified 

September 8, 2021