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Ten years too long: An ignoble anniversary for Guantanamo Bay

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Ten years too long: An ignoble anniversary for Guantanamo Bay

Ten years. That's how long the notorious, US-run Guantanamo Bay prison has been open as of this coming Wednesday. While Barack Obama promised to close the prison way back in 2008, nearly 200 prisoners continue to while away the days behind its bars.

To mark the anniversary of one of the most enduring and controversial arms of the US War on Terror, the New York Times published a must-read piece yesterday by Lakhdar Boumediene. For years, prisoners art Guantanamo languished without trial or access to the evidence against them, denied even the basic rights accorded to prisoners of war; for the US government, the War on Terror was - is - a war in name only, and therefore did not fall under the Geneva Convention. Boumediene, an Algerian-Bosnian, was one of those responsible for forcing the government to comply with the most basic rights of prisoners and to allow them their day in court.

Kidnapped (there's no other way to term it when someone is nabbed without charge or evidence) by US forces from Bosnia in 2001, he was the lead plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush which finally resulted in a federal court judge reviewing the cases of those detained. In 2009, the father of three was released without being found guilty of any crimes.

Boumediene's reflections are poignant and disturbing, reminding us of just how far outside the law that the US government continues to operate and the horrors that they have committed in the co-called pursuit of freedom.

Boumediene closes:

I’m told that my Supreme Court case is now read in law schools. Perhaps one day that will give me satisfaction, but so long as Guantánamo stays open and innocent men remain there, my thoughts will be with those left behind in that place of suffering and injustice.

One person still behind bars in Guantanamo is the Canadian Omar Khadr. Arrested at the age of 15, he is about begin his tenth year emprisoned at the US naval base. Khadr agreed to a plea deal on charges of murder, spying, and terrorism in 2010, which under terms of the plea means he was elligible for repatriation as of October 2011.

But as The Globe and Mail reported at the end of December, a mix of bureaucratic red tape (officially) and a reticence on the part of the Conervative government to repatriate him (the article quotes a US official as saying “Your country doesn’t want him back”) means he is still south of the border. Once back in Canada, experts say Khadr would be elligible for parole almost immediately, and at the latest after he has done one-third of his 8 year sentence.

While Khadr's case has been high-profile and controversial (he is the son of a prominent Al Qaeda-supporting family previously linked to terrorism plots), many have crticised his treatment, pointing to questionable evidence against him as well as the fact that, since he was arrested at such a young age, he should have been considered a child soldier and treated as such under the Geneva convention. According to the Globe, his lawyers have received no information on a transfer date.

For more on the story of Khadr's emprisonment, watch the great documentary You Don't Like The Truth, by Luc Côté and Patricio Henrìquez. Trailer:

 


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