July 21, 2010 - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement regarding the U.S. government’s forcible repatriation of Abdul Aziz Naji to Algeria:
“Earlier this week the Obama Administration carried out its first forcible repatriation of a Guantánamo detainee, sending Abdul Aziz Naji to Algeria, a country with a dismal human rights record including the routine use of torture.
CCR is deeply concerned, as are Mr. Naji’s attorneys, because his whereabouts and well-being in Algeria are currently unknown. Mr. Naji has disappeared since his return to Algeria, and is presumably being held in secret detention by Algerian state security forces.
Although other Guantánamo detainees who have been returned to Algeria voluntarily were held in secret detention for about two weeks and eventually released, the only other detainee who publicly expressed a fear of return to Algeria was Ahmed Belbacha, who was tried, convicted and sentenced in absentia to twenty years of imprisonment in Algeria as retribution for speaking out.
There was no need for the U.S. government to deliberately expose Mr. Naji to persecution by forcing him to return to Algeria. Mr. Naji had applied for political asylum in Switzerland, and his application was proceeding through the Swiss courts with the support of human rights groups and other advocates in that country. There is simply no need for the U.S. government to forcibly transfer any Guantánamo detainee to a country where he fears torture as many resettlement alternatives exist for these men, including Algerian detainees specifically.
The Algerian government must immediately account for Mr. Naji’s whereabouts and well-being. The Algerian government also must respect and comply with international law prohibiting the use of secret detention and torture. Further, the Algerian government must protect Mr. Naji from extremist forces in Algeria.
Until the Algerian government provides these assurances, it will remain under a cloud of suspicion of human rights violations, and the U.S. government which orchestrated Mr. Naji’s forced repatriation will remain accountable for Mr. Naji’s disappearance in violation of U.S. and international law.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.