North America

Judge blocks indefinite detention of asylum seekers

A US district court judge ruled that the Department of Homeland Security cannot hold migrants seeking asylum indefinitely as was ordered by Attorney General William Barr. Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle held that the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act cited by Barr violates the US Constitution. Pechman stated that the plaintiffs in the case have established that asylum seekers have “a constitutionally protected interest in their liberty” and a “right to due process, which includes a hearing.” (Photo of Homeland Security’s Otay Mesa Detention Center from BBC World Service via Flickr)

Watching the Shadows

SCOTUS lets stand Guantánamo detention

The Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case of Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi, a Yemeni who has been held as an “enemy combatant” at Guantánamo since 2002. Al-Alwi was captured in Pakistan in late 2001, and the government concluded that he had fought in Afghanistan as part of a Qaeda-commanded unit. Al-Alwi denied this unsuccessfully during his original round of habeas corpus proceedings, and in 2015 initiated a new habeas case arguing that the nature of US involvement in Afghanistan had changed such that the use of military detention is no longer justified under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit disagreed, and the Supreme Court has now declined to review the appellate court’s conclusion. (Photo via Jurist)

Watching the Shadows

Amnesty: Gitmo prison ‘stain on human rights’

Amnesty International called the Guantánamo Bay prison camp a "stain on human rights" on the eve of the facility's seventeenth anniversary. Guantánamo currently holds 40 detainees, many of whom were tortured by the CIA before being transferred to the facility. Some of the detainees have been cleared for transfer for years, but still remain at the facility. Some have been waiting for transfer as far back as 2010. Since its opening, the Guantánamo facility has housed around 800 prisoners, many without formal charges or due process. (Photo via Jurist)

Central Asia

China fast expanding detention camp system

With China accused of detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims without trial in its western province of Xinjiang, a BBC investigation analyzed satellite data to determine that the detention camp system in the region is rapidly expanding. Reviewing images from the European Space Agency's Sentinel satellite service, the BBC finds at least 40 such facilities across Xinjiang, half built within last two years—with a big thrust of construction just in the past six months. Among the largest is a "massive, highly secure compound" still being built at Dabancheng, about an hour's drive from the provincial capital, Urumqi. It is enclosed within a two kilometer-long exterior wall punctuated by 16 guard towers. (Photo via UNPO)

Africa

World Court hears Mauritius claim against UK

The government of the island nation of Mauritius presented its claim to the International Court of Justice that the British government forced the transfer of the Chagos Islands as a condition of independence in 1965. The UK leased the island of Diego Garcia within the archipelago to the US in 1966, which was used to build a military base that required the forced removal of around 1,500 people. The population has yet to be allowed to return home. Former prime minister of Mauritius and current parliamentarian Anerood Jugnauth told the ICJ, “The choice we were faced with was no choice at all: it was independence with detachment [of the Chagos archipelago] or no independence with detachment anyway.” The location of the Chagos Islands in the central Indian Ocean is seen as strategic for policing the Persian Gulf. In 2016 the US lease for the base was extended until 2036. (Photo: WILPF)

North America

Japanese-Peruvian veteran of US concentration camps dies waiting for justice

Isamu (Art) Shibayama, a rights advocate for Latin Americans of Japanese descent who were detained in prison camps in the United States during World War II, died July 31 at his home in San Jose, Calif. Born in Lima, Peru, in 1930, Shibayama was 13 when his family was detained and forcibly shipped to the United States. They were among some 2,000 Japanese-Peruvians who were rounded up and turned over to the US military for detention after the Pearl Harbor attack. Upon their arrival in New Orleans, the family was transported to the "internment camp" for Japanese-Americans at Crystal City, Texas. The family would remain in detention until 1946. Shibayama eventually won US citizenship, but was denied restitution for his wartime detention on the basis that he had not at the time been a US citizen or legal resident. He was still seeking justice from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the time of his death. (Photo via the New York Times)

Greater Middle East

Yemen: demand investigation of UAE ‘war crimes’

A year after a network of secret prisons was first exposed in southern Yemen, Amnesty International has issued a report documenting continued rights violations in these facilities, including systemic forced disappearance and torture. The report details how scores of men have been arbitrarily detained by United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemeni forces operating outside the command of their own government. Many have been tortured, with some feared to have died in custody. Amnesty is calling for these violations to be investigated as war crimes. (Photo: Families of the disappeared protest outside presidential complex in Aden. Via Amnesty International)

Watching the Shadows

Lithuania, Romania guilty in CIA torture case

The European Court of Human Rights found that Lithuania and Romania had violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights by allowing secret CIA prisons to operate on their territory. Lithuania had allowed the CIA to open a "black site" on its territory, where the CIA subjected the applicant, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn AKA Abu Zubaydah, to "ill-treatment and arbitrary detention." Lithuania must pay Husayn 130,000 euros ($150,000). The applicant in the Romania case, Abd al-Rahim Husseyn Muhammad al-Nashiri, was transported to a "black site" on that country's territory territory, and faced capital charges in the US. The court apprehended Romania for transferring al-Nashiri to the US when it was likely he would face the death penalty. Romania must pay the applicant 100,000 euros ($115,000). Both men remain interned at Guantánamo Bay. (Photo: WikimediaCommons)

Watching the Shadows

US misses transfer deadline for Gitmo detainee

The Trump administration has yet to repatriate Guantánamo detainee Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi to Saudi Arabia, effectively missing the deadline established in his 2014 plea deal. Darbi pleaded guilty and admitted to involvement in al-Qaeda operations including the 2002 attack on a a French-flagged oil tanker near Yemen. In his pre-trial agreement, it was determined that, contingent on his cooperation, he would be sent back to Saudi Arabia to serve the duration of his sentence. Feb. 20 marked four years from the close of the deal and Darbi was not repatriated to Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Watching the Shadows

Trump executive order to keep Gitmo prison open

Donald Trump signed an executive order to continue operations at the Guantánamo detention center—not only allowing those currently detained to remain detained, but also permitting the US to bring new persons to the facility.  The order comes the same day Trump pledged "to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay" in his State of the Union address—to applause from Republican lawmakers. It also comes nearly nine years to the day after Obama's executive order to begin the process of closing the facility. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Watching the Shadows

Military judge approves destruction of ‘black site’

Military judge James Pohl ruled that no wrongdoing occurred when he authorized the destruction of a CIA secret prison, or "black site," despite the fact that a protection order was in effect on any remains from the CIA black sites. Prosecutors, citing national security powers, obtained permission from the judge to give defense attorneys photographs and a diagram of the site as a substitute for preservation the actual facility. The question concerned the admissibility of evidence possibly extracted by torture in the 9-11 case now underway at Guantánamo Bay. From 2002-2006, prisoners at the black site were subjected to waterboarding, sexual abuse, and other forms of torture. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Watching the Shadows

Gitmo habeas claim charges Trump discrimination

Eleven Guantánamo inmates filed a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, claiming their indefinite detention is due to President Trump's anti-Muslim bias. The inmates argue they can only be legally kept at Guantánamo if their individual circumstances show they would otherwise return to the battlefield. The suit claims that Trump's declaration that all Guantánamo inmates will remain at the prison camp does not take into account circumstances, but is based on Trump's antipathy toward Muslims. (Photo: Wikimedia)