The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents numerous Guantanamo Bay inmates, has filed the first-ever challenge to the government’s assertion that the treatment of detainees is not reviewable in U.S. courts.
The group said it filed its challenge with a Washington, D.C. district court in response to the government’s move to have Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld dismissed. The case was filed by the families of two men found dead in the military prison in 2006.
“The Supreme Court has ruled three times that Guantánamo is not beyond the reach of the law, yet the government is claiming, in 2009, that the base is still a legal black hole and what happens at Guantánamo stays at Guantánamo,” CCR Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei said in a media advisory.
Vincent Warren, CCR executive director, added: “We have extensive documentation of the abuse and torture of many of our clients, both released men and men still being held in inhuman conditions at Guantánamo. They and their families must have a way to seek justice and hold the officials responsible for their treatment accountable to our laws and our system of justice. If Guantánamo remains a black hole under President Obama, all his promises of transparency and an end to lawlessness are worthless.”
The civil action against former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also includes 23 other Bush administration officials, including Guantanamo doctors and support staff.
Both Yasser Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia and Salah Al-Salami of Yemen, on behalf of which the suit was filed, are said to have committed suicide after prolonged detention in the U.S. military facility.
“Al-Zahrani, who was 22 when he died, and al-Salami, who was 37, were among the allegedly hundreds of inmates who staged hunger strikes to protest their detention, and were eventually force-fed through tubes,” noted Legal Times, reading from the original legal complaint.