January 29, 2010, Brussels and New York – At the start of the E.U.-U.S. Consultations on Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), urged the parties to address the issue of accountability and effective redress for the human rights violations committed by the U.S. government during the “War on Terror.” One year after the inauguration of President Obama, the rights groups asked the E.U. delegation to question U.S. efforts to close the prison at Guantánamo and use this opportunity to explore concrete avenues to deepen E.U.-U.S. cooperation on the resettlement of detainees who cannot safely return to their home countries.
FIDH and CCR presented a document to the parties that outlines the human rights issues related to the “War on Terror” that should be prioritized in this dialogue: the lack of investigations and prosecutions for torture; blocking redress, particularly in the courts, for victims of international law violations; and continuing efforts to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay.
“It is widely known and well-documented that the Bush administration committed and was complicit in serious violations of international law, including torture. Effective investigations and prosecutions of those U.S. officials – including former high level officials – responsible for war crimes, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment must begin immediately,” said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. “The Obama Administration must also meet its obligations to provide redress to the many victims of the unlawful actions of U.S. officials, including extraordinary rendition victim Maher Arar.”
The organizations wrote, “These concerns ought to be resolved urgently in order to avoid that illegitimate, unfair, and unlawful practices become established precedents and to put an end to the illegal and indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees.”
FIDH and CCR deplored the failure of the United States to close the Guantánamo Bay prison after eight years and urged the European Union to pressure the United States to close the prison and end the unlawful regime of indefinite detention without charge or trial.
The groups demanded the United States lift the blanket ban on transferring detainees to Yemen and Saudi Arabia and refrain from forcibly transferring detainees to human rights abusing regimes such as Algeria, Libya and Tajikistan.
FIDH and CCR further urged the European Union to continue to support the closure of Guantánamo Bay and provide humanitarian protection to detainees such as Algerian Djamel Ameziane who cannot safely return to their home countries. In addition, the groups requested the E.U. delegation also urge other countries such as Australia, Canada and South Africa, as well as countries in Central and South America, to resettle detainees.
Approximately 40 remaining detainees at Guantánamo still need safe resettlement, including Mr. Ameziane, and the rights organizations reiterated that Guantánamo Bay will not close without assistance from other countries.
To read the full document scroll down.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last eight years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 50 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
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.