On July 2, 2008, the U.S. government transferred two Algerians from Guantánamo to the custody of the Algerian government. These were the first Algerians transferred from Guantánamo to Algeria, and the men have effectively disappeared for the approximately twelve days subsequent to their transfer.
Abderrahmane Houari, 28, and Mustafa Ahmed Hamlily, 49, had been imprisoned for more than six years in Guantánamo. Both Mr. Houari and Mr. Hamlily had manifested serious health problems in Guantánamo. Mr. Houari had reportedly even attempted to kill himself in December 2007. The families of these two men have heard nothing of their whereabouts since their return to Algeria.
"While we are pleased that Mr. Houari has finally been released from Guantanamo Bay, something that should have occurred years ago, that lack of notice as to his whereabouts is unconscionable, particularly in light of his well documented mental health history,” said Thomas Durkin, attorney for Abderrahmane Houari.
Approximately 23 Algerians remain in Guantánamo. At least five have explicitly expressed fears of repatriation due to a risk of torture or persecution. An estimated 50 Guantánamo detainees, including the five Algerians, cannot return home for fear of torture or persecution. So far, neither the U.S. nor other countries have been willing to give them safe haven. In fact, the U.S. has already sent 40 detainees back to countries that are known for human rights abuses, including Uzbekistan, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt.
“The United States has handed over two men to the Algerian government after more than six years of detention in brutal conditions at Guantánamo. Now they have been held in incommunicado detention for approximately two weeks since their transfer from Guantánamo. The U.S. must make sure that they are treated humanely and that their families know of their whereabouts,” said CCR Staff Attorney Emi MacLean. “There are men in Guantánamo from Algeria and elsewhere who remain simply because they need a safe country to return to. The U.S. and other countries need to act urgently to end the indefinite detention of these men.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.