Majid Khan Faces Hurdles to Independence
February 1, 2024, New York – In advance of the one-year anniversary of Majid Khan’s resettlement in Belize, his attorneys released the following statement:
Majid Khan was released from Guantánamo Bay one year ago tomorrow. Since landing in Belize, he has rarely looked backward to the 20 years he spent in U.S. custody. Instead, he has fully committed to creating a new life in his adopted country. Majid has a new home; he has been reunited with his wife and met his daughter who was born after his capture in March 2003; and he has tried to befriend every Belizean he has met. His resettlement has been a tremendous success.
“I love Belize, it’s a great country, and I am very thankful to everyone here who took a chance on me and welcomed me. I am doing my best to honor them and to live up to my end of the deal. One good turn deserves another,” Majid said.
But challenges remain. Majid has continuing medical problems from years of CIA torture. He is also unable to open a bank account, which means he cannot get a job, start a business, or support his family. It is a serious problem that threatens his long-term independence and stability, which the U.S. State Department has failed to address despite many unanswered requests for assistance.
Said Katya Jestin, Co-Managing Partner of Jenner & Block LLP, “We’re very proud of Majid and how well he has transitioned to life after Guantánamo, but to truly build a strong future with his family he needs and wants to earn a living. Majid was tortured by the CIA, spent 16 years in Guantánamo, cooperated fully with the government, and honored his obligations. Now, it is time for the State Department to help clear the way for Majid to establish a bank account so that he can earn a paycheck like any other law-abiding person.”
Today, 30 men remain at Guantánamo, including 16 who have been approved for transfer unanimously by all relevant military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies because they do not present a threat to the United States or its allies. Some have been cleared to leave the prison for more than a decade. Like Majid, these men want the chance to rebuild their lives and reunite with their families.
Since Majid’s transfer, only four men have been released, and Majid’s transfer remains the only third-country resettlement completed by the Biden administration. Having waited too long to transfer the other cleared men, the administration also now faces pressure from congressional leadership to halt transfers due to the recent Middle East conflict.
Said Wells Dixon, a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, “Transfer momentum is difficult to gain and easy to lose. Time is running out. The administration must do more to achieve its objective of closing Guantánamo. The war in Afghanistan ended years ago, and armed conflict rules prohibit continued detention of men, who no one thinks should continue to be detained, for the duration of a new conflict that has nothing at all to do with them or the purported reasons for their capture 20 years ago. At a time when international human rights are under threat around the world, it is essential that the Biden administration demonstrate its commitment to those principles and transfer cleared men who require third-country resettlement to strong U.S. allies like Belize.”
It is our sincere hope that by next year at this time, Guantánamo will finally be closed.
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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.