April 1, 2011, New York and Washington – Today, the D. C. Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case of Nazul Gul and Adel Hamed, two former Guantánamo detainees whose habeas corpus cases were dismissed as moot by the district court after they were resettled in their home countries. Over the course of the litigation the government repeatedly sought delays in the adjudication of their cases up until the point the men were transferred, before the Court could rule on the merits. The government then argued that the cases should be dismissed. That these and other former detainees have so far been prevented from having a court rule that they were improperly held and denied a chance to clear their names has resulted in concrete collateral consequences in their lives post-release and left the stigma of their detention at Guantanamo intact, according to attorneys.
“Hundreds of detainees have been released, but most are still not free – not free to leave the country to which they were sent, to have their families join them, or to rebuild their lives without the continued cloud of suspicion and fear that surrounds their status as a former Guantanamo detainee,” said CCR Senior Managing Attorney Shayana Kadidal. “These men should be allowed to present evidence as to the continued harm they suffer and to vindicate their rights.”
Muhammed Khan Tumani, who was detained without charge at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2009 before being resettled in Portugal , is among men formerly detained who still suffer from the stigma of their detention:
“I lost over seven years of my life in detention by the US , from when I was 17. They took my family from me, my education, the years I would be building my life. I am trying now to rebuild, but I carry the stain of Guantanamo with me wherever I go, whoever I meet, whatever I do. It keeps me from being able to live like a normal person and have the same basic rights, even almost two years after my release. My detention was wrong, the things the U.S. government said about me were wrong, and I should have the chance to clear my name.”
CCR filed a habeas petition on behalf of Khan Tumani in 2005, but years of stays and delays in his case meant that his petition had still not been reviewed by the time he was cleared for release from Guantanamo four years later. He is among former detainees who want to continue their cases post-release to clear their names once and for all.
“Fear, hysteria, and political opportunism may have explained why these men were rounded up, held for years, and quietly released – but nearly ten years of reflection and repeated evidence as to the true nature of the program at Guantanamo, the treatment of detainees and the often baseless allegations that were used to justify their detention should result in at least some form of accountability today,” said CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley . “These men should have their day in court; our system is strong enough to withstand an admission that the government made mistakes and to provide these men some small measure of justice.”
The right to habeas corpus was determined by the Supreme Court in 2004 in the landmark Center for Constitutional Rights case, Rasul v. Bush.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last nine years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with an individual transferred from CIA “ghost detention” to Guantanamo . CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo , ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 30 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.