Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Appendix: Fair trials and an end to unlawful detentions

(Appendix to Cruel and Inhuman: Conditions of isolation for detainees at Guantánamo Bay)

1. Any detention facility which is used to hold persons beyond the protection of international human rights and humanitarian law should be closed. This applies to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, where, in more than five years of detention operations, the US administration has failed to establish procedures which comply with international law and standards. The USA’s secret detention program should be immediately and permanently ended and any secret detention facilities, wherever in the world they may be situated, closed down.

2. Closing Guantánamo or other facilities must not result in the transfer of the human rights violations elsewhere. All detainees in US custody must be treated in accordance with international human rights law and standards, and, where relevant, international humanitarian law. All US detention facilities must be open to appropriate external scrutiny, including that of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

3. The responsibility for finding a solution for the detainees held in Guantánamo and elsewhere rests first and foremost with the USA. The US government has created a system of detention in which detainees have been held without charge or trial, outside the framework of international law and without the possibility of full recourse to US courts. It must redress this situation in full compliance with international law and standards.

4. All US officials should desist from further undermining the presumption of innocence in relation to the Guantánamo detainees. The continued public commentary on their presumed guilt puts them at risk in at least two ways – it is dangerous to the prospect for a fair trial and dangerous to the safety of any detainee who is released. It may also put them at further risk of ill-treatment in detention.

5. All detainees must be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in an independent and impartial court, so that that court may order the release of anyone whose detention is not lawful. The Military Commissions Act should be repealed or substantially amended to bring it into conformity with international law, including by fully ensuring the right to habeas corpus.

6. President George W. Bush should fully rescind his 13 November 2001 Military Order authorizing detention without charge or trial, as well as his executive order of 14 February 2007 establishing military commissions under the Military Commissions Act.

7. Those currently held in Guantánamo should be released unless they are to be charged and tried in accordance with international standards of fair trial.

8. No detainees should be forcibly sent to their country of origin if they would face serious human rights abuses there, or to any other country where they may face such abuses or from where they may in turn be forcibly sent to a country where they are at such risk.

Fair trials

9. Those to be charged and tried must be charged with a recognizable crime under law and tried before an independent and impartial tribunal established by law, such as a US federal court, in full accordance with international standards of fair trial. There should be no recourse to the death penalty.

10. Any information obtained under torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should not be admissible in any tribunal. In light of the years of legal, physical and mental abuse to which detainees in US custody have been subjected, any trials must scrupulously respect international standards and any sentencing take into account the length and conditions of detention in Guantánamo or elsewhere prior to being transported there.

Solutions for those to be released

11. There must be a fair and transparent process to assess the situation of each of the detainees who is to be released, in order to establish whether they can return safely to their country of origin or whether another solution must be found. In all cases detainees must be individually assessed, be properly represented by their lawyers, be provided interpreters if required, given a full opportunity to express their views, provided with written reasons for any decision, and have access to a suspensive right of appeal. Relevant international agencies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), could be invited to assist in this task, in line with their respective mandates. The options before the US government to deal in a manner which fully respects the rights of detainees who are not to be tried and who therefore ought to be released without further delay include the following:

(a) Return. The US authorities should return released detainees to their country of origin or habitual residence unless they are at risk there of serious human rights violations, including prolonged arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, unfair trial, torture or other ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, or the death penalty. Among those who should be released with a view to return are all those who according to the laws of war (Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols) should have been recognized after their capture as prisoners of war, and then released at the end of the international armed conflict in Afghanistan, unless they are to be tried for war crimes or other serious human rights abuses. Again, all detainees who are not to be charged with recognizable crimes should be released.

(b) Diplomatic assurances. The US authorities must not seek or accept diplomatic assurances from the prospective receiving government about how a detainee will be treated after return to that country as a basis for sending individuals to countries where they would otherwise be considered at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Diplomatic assurances under these circumstances breach international human rights obligations; are unreliable and unenforceable; and are inherently discriminatory in that they apply only to particular individuals. In addition, the USA must not impose conditions upon the transfer of detainees under which the receiving state would, by accepting such conditions, be violating their obligations under international human rights law.

(c) Asylum in the USA. The US authorities should provide released detainees with the opportunity to apply for asylum in the USA if they so wish, and recognize them as refugees if they meet the requirements international refugee law. The US authorities must ensure that any asylum applicants have access to proper legal advice and to fair and effective procedures that are in compliance with international refugee law and standards, including the opportunity to contact UNHCR. Asylum applicants should not be detained except in the most exceptional circumstances.

(d) Other forms of protection in the USA. Persons who do not qualify for refugee status, but are at risk of serious human rights abuses in the prospective country of return must receive other forms of protection and should be allowed to stay in the USA if they wish, pursuant to obligations under domestic and international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. They should not be detained, unless in each individual case it is established before a court that their detention is lawful, for a purpose recognized as legitimate by international human rights law, and necessary and proportionate to the objective to be achieved, with the lawfulness of the detention periodically reviewed by the courts, in accordance with international human rights law and standards.

(e) Transfer to third countries. The US authorities should facilitate the search for durable solutions in third countries for those who cannot be returned to their countries of origin or habitual residence, because they would be at risk of serious human rights abuses, and who do not wish to remain in the USA. Any such solution should address the protection needs of the individuals, fully respect all of their human rights, and take into account their views. All transfers to third countries should be with the informed consent of the individuals concerned. UNHCR should be allowed to assist in such a process, in accordance with its mandate and policies. Released detainees should not be subjected to any pressures and restrictions that may compel them to choose to resettle in a third country. Transfers must not occur to third countries from where individuals may in turn be forcibly sent to a country where they would be at such risk.

12. The USA has an obligation under international law to provide prompt and adequate reparation, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and fair and guarantees of non-repetition, to released detainees for the period spent unlawfully detained and for other violations that they may have suffered, such as torture or other ill-treatment. The right of victims to seek reparations in the US courts must not be limited.

Transparency pending closure

13. The USA should invite the five UN experts who have sought access – the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – to visit Guantánamo without the restrictions that led them to turn down the USA’s previous invitation. In particular, there should be no restrictions on the experts’ ability to talk privately with detainees.

Other countries

14. Other countries should give serious consideration to accepting released detainees voluntarily seeking resettlement there, especially countries of former habitual residence or countries where released detainees have had close family or other ties.

15. Other governments should reject conditions attached to detainee transfers requested by the USA which would violate the receiving country’s obligations under international human rights law.

16. All countries should actively support closure of the Guantánamo detention camp and all other facilities operating outside the rule of international human rights and humanitarian law, and an end to secret detentions and interrogations.

17. No state should transfer anyone to US custody in circumstances where they could be detained in Guantánamo or elsewhere where they may be held outside the protections of international law, or in cases where they could face trial by military commission.

18. No state should provide any information to assist the prosecution in military commission trials. This applies in all instances, and is especially compelling in cases where the death penalty is sought.

No comments: