UN officials lament Guantánamo repatriation
FD Editor’s Note: If you are like me, I should warn you that the following article is likely to raise your blood pressure. A lot. So take precautions. Grab a pillow or something. Put away all breakables. The one thing that saves this is that the author is a very good writer. As for the content perhaps we should use this anger, and challenge it into organizing some demonstrations in our areas. Others need to be made aware that this is going on. You may be surprised at how many people, including progressives, are really un-informed about this issue. We need to change that.
Two top United Nations officials said Tuesday they were concerned about the welfare of a Guantánamo captive the U.S. repatriated to Algeria last week after a decade in the detention center in southeast Cuba.
In joint statement issued from Geneva, the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, warned that former detainee Djamel Ameziane, 46, could be at risk following his involuntary transfer from Guantánamo Bay to Algeria.
“We are deeply concerned that the life of Mr. Ameziane could be in danger in Algeria,” they said.
The United States has said it got assurances of humane treatment from Algerian authorities before sending Ameziane and Belkacem Bensayah, 51, to Algeria. They were returned Wednesday to what attorneys for other released Guantánamo prisoners described as up to 12 days of questioning incommunicado.
Ameziane’s attorney, Wells Dixon, said Tuesday morning that his family had yet to hear from him.
The rapporteurs made no mention of the Bensayah case although his attorney had, like lawyers for Ameziane, also sought resettlement in a Western nation rather than return to the north African nation each man fled in the 1990s.
In Washington, Ian Moss of the State Department’s office for Guantánamo closure said Tuesday that the U.S. “is satisfied that the Algerian government will continue to abide by lawful procedures and uphold its humane treatment obligations under domestic and international law in managing the return of Mr. Ameziane and Mr. Bensayah.”
Moss added that the United States had “received no credible or substantiated information to suggest that any of the 14 detainees previously transferred from Guantánamo to Algeria have been mistreated.”
In Geneva, however, the U.N. officials said: “Diplomatic assurances are unreliable and ineffective in protecting against torture and ill-treatment, and states should not resort to them. We have often seen diplomatic assurances used by governments to circumvent the absolute prohibition of torture as established in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”
Separately, a State Department official said no other country had agreed to take in those two Algerians, making resettlement not a feasible option. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to discuss alternatives to last week’s transfer.