Ex-Guantánamo Detainees Effectively Disappeared After Transfer To Algeria Nearly Two Weeks Ago
Center for Constitutional Rights Calls for Immediate Notice of Their Whereabouts
On July 2, 2008, the U.S. government transferred two Algerians from Guantánamo to the custody of the Algerian government. These were the first Algerians transferred from Guantánamo to Algeria, and the men have effectively disappeared for the approximately twelve days subsequent to their transfer.
Abderrahmane Houari, 28, and Mustafa Ahmed Hamlily, 49, had been imprisoned for more than six years in Guantánamo. Both Mr. Houari and Mr. Hamlily had manifested serious health problems in Guantánamo. Mr. Houari had reportedly even attempted to kill himself in December 2007. The families of these two men have heard nothing of their whereabouts since their return to Algeria.
"While we are pleased that Mr. Houari has finally been released from Guantanamo Bay, something that should have occurred years ago, that lack of notice as to his whereabouts is unconscionable, particularly in light of his well documented mental health history,” said Thomas Durkin, attorney for Abderrahmane Houari.
Approximately 23 Algerians remain in Guantánamo. At least five have explicitly expressed fears of repatriation due to a risk of torture or persecution. An estimated 50 Guantánamo detainees, including the five Algerians, cannot return home for fear of torture or persecution. So far, neither the U.S. nor other countries have been willing to give them safe haven. In fact, the U.S. has already sent 40 detainees back to countries that are known for human rights abuses, including Uzbekistan, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt.
“The United States has handed over two men to the Algerian government after more than six years of detention in brutal conditions at Guantánamo. Now they have been held in incommunicado detention for approximately two weeks since their transfer from Guantánamo. The U.S. must make sure that they are treated humanely and that their families know of their whereabouts,” said CCR Staff Attorney Emi MacLean. “There are men in Guantánamo from Algeria and elsewhere who remain simply because they need a safe country to return to. The U.S. and other countries need to act urgently to end the indefinite detention of these men.”
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. CCR has been involved with the representation of Guantánamo detainees since the prison opened in 2002 and has been sending counsel to represent the prisoners at the base since winning the first Guantánamo case, Rasul v. Bush, in 2004.