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June 11, 2020 – Last week, a military judge at Guantanamo ruled, in the case of Majid Khan, that detainees in the military commissions system should have their sentences reduced as remedy for the torture they suffered at the hands of the CIA. 

As the New York Times reported: “During his time in the C.I.A. black sites, Mr. Khan says, he was hung from his wrists and kept naked and hooded to the point of wild hallucinations. He was held in darkness for a year, isolated in a cell with bugs that bit him until he bled. A Senate investigation disclosed that in his second year of C.I.A. detention, the agency ‘infused’ a purée of pasta, sauce, nuts, raisins and hummus into his rectum because he went on a hunger strike.”

This is the first time that a Guantanamo military commission judge’s ruling has called for a remedy for the victims of that torture. Yet there are still 31 men who are not part of the military commissions trials, and are instead detained at the prison indefinitely. There are no charges against them, and so they are not facing a trial. These men are thus denied release, sentence reduction, or any other form of remedy for the torture they suffered at the hands of the CIA and its allies. 

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This includes men like Ahmed Rabbani, who has been held without charge or trial for 16 years. As uncovered in the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture, Ahmed was apprehended on the basis of mistaken identity. He was held at a ‘black site’ in Kabul and subjected to the CIA’s torture program for over 540 days before being rendered to Guantanamo Bay. Ahmed has described his torture, detailing how he was “taken to a room and hung by my hand to an iron shackle where my toes hardly touched the ground…I was hanging from one hand, naked, thirsty, and hungry…All my weight was hung from the iron shackle until my hand was about to be cut off and the blood was going down to my feet. All my body parts were shaking because of cut off blood circulation and my pulled and beaten body began hurting all over and my head, nose and mouth started bleeding.” The US Government has offered Ahmed no route to remedy for the torture he suffered, or the nearly two decades he has been held without charge or trial. 

Reprieve Deputy Director, Katie Taylor, said: “One of Guantanamo’s bleakest ironies is that those the US has charged with crimes have more viable avenues for release than men like Ahmed, who the US holds without charge as ‘forever prisoners’. According to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Ahmed was subjected to the same monstrous torture program as Majid—but you can’t fight charges in court if you aren’t charged, and you can’t reduce a sentence that doesn’t exist. Indefinite detention and torture are indefensible in any modern society, and the US’ prison at Guantanamo is no exception.”

Reprieve is an international human rights organisation. www.reprieve.org.uk