Tag Archives: detainees

Genital searches interfere with client, attorney meetings at Guantánamo

Two men detained at Guantánamo failed to meet with their attorneys because the U.S. prison has reinstated genital searches.

Human rights advocates expressed concern that the searches are deliberate attempts to stop detainees from meeting with their lawyers. 

Staff at Guantánamo told Cori Crider, an attorney with the UK-based Reprieve human rights group, detainee Samir Moqbel refused their meeting because he didn’t want to submit to the genital search. Briton Shaker Aamer also canceled an attorney meeting.

In 2013, during the height of a mass hunger strike at Guantánamo, the genital searches were the subject of litigation in U.S. court and were eventually discontinued by camp authorities. A judge who ordered the searches should be stopped wrote, “The choice between submitting to a search procedure that is religiously and culturally abhorrent or forgoing counsel effectively presents no choice for devout Muslims like petitioners.” 

Guantánamo staff have said the searchers involve “placing the guard’s hand as a wedge between the (detainee’s) scrotum and thigh … and using (a) flat hand to press against the groin to detect anything foreign attached to the body,” after which a guard “uses a flat hand to frisk the detainee’s buttocks to ensure no contraband is hidden there.”

Hunger strike reaches Day 5 at immigration detention center

A hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Washington state that started with hundreds of participants was down to five detainees on its fifth day, and they were under medical evaluation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said on March 11.

The agency said 27 people had refused to eat at the start of the day. They were placed under medical observation and separated from others at the Tacoma facility. By that afternoon, 22 detainees had eaten, and five remained on hunger strike and under medical evaluation.

ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz said he could not comment on the condition of detainees who are still participating in the hunger strike because of privacy restrictions.

Relatives and supporters of detainees rallied on March 11 outside the center, calling for immigration reform and better treatment for those inside.

Hundreds of immigration detainees began the strike Friday. At one point, about 750 of the center’s nearly 1,300 detainees refused to eat.

Medical and center staff advised detainees on March 10 of the potential consequences of remaining on a hunger strike, including forced feeding, ICE officials said.

The agency’s hunger strike policy says officials won’t force anyone to eat unless it’s determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a court. ICE’s policy is to seek a court order to obtain authorization for involuntary medical treatment, according to the document.

“ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference,” Munoz said.

Activists say detainees are seeking better food and treatment. Some are seeking to be released on bond while their cases are heard.

Munoz said that ICE officials and detention center managers have been talking to strikers since Friday and that several issues detainees brought up are being addressed. Those include adding more items to the commissary and looking for ways to reduce prices.

Immigrant-rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando said detainees have reported that they have been intimidated for participating in the hunger strike. Some seeking asylum in the U.S. have been told their cases could be denied, she said on March 11.

“There have been no punitive actions taken against individuals who are participating in the protest,” the agency said.

The privately owned detention facility south of Seattle is under contract with ICE to house people being investigated for possible deportation.

Protests planned against Guantánamo prison

A national coalition is planning a day of action against the continued operation of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.

Demonstrations will take place on Jan. 11 at the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building, as well as at federal buildings in San Francisco and Chicago.

At least one event is planned in Wisconsin. Activists will gather for a letter-writing party at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson St,. Madison, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11. Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice and Madison Pledge of Resistance are organizing the event.

Jan. 11 marks the 10th anniversary of the first detainees’ arrival at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo.

The progressive groups organizing the D.C. demonstration include the Bradley Manning Support Network, Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International USA, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Physicians for Human Rights, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, No More Guantánamos, Pax Christi USA, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Catholic Worker, War Resisters League, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink, School of the Americas Watch, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, 8th Day Center for Justice, WarIsACrime.org, Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, Refuge Media Project, War Criminals Watch, Arab American Association of New York, Appeal for Justice, International Justice Network, High Road for Human Rights, Quaker Initiative to End Torture and Courage to Resist.

Three years ago, the president signed an executive order calling for the closing of Guantánamo, which remains open and operating.

Detainee assessments from Guantánamo were among the U.S. documents that gay soldier Bradley Manning is accused of stealing and giving to WikiLeaks. The files revealed that more than 150 innocent Afghans and Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs and drivers, were held for years in the prison without charge.

A preliminary hearing in the Manning case took place in December. A decision on whether a court martial will be convened is expected later this month.

If Manning is convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

RIGHTS REPORT: Egyptian court bans military ‘virginity tests’

An Egyptian court this week ordered the country’s military rulers to stop the use of “virginity tests” on female detainees, a practice that has caused an uproar among activists and rights groups.

The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters, and the army cleared the square by force. The group Human Rights Watch said seven women were subjected to the tests.

The ban came a week after public outrage over scenes of soldiers dragging women protesters by the hair, stomping on them and stripping one half-naked in the street during a fierce crackdown on activists.

“This is a case for all the women of Egypt, not only mine,” said Samira Ibrahim, 25, who was arrested and then spoke out about her treatment.

Ibrahim filed two suits against the practice, one demanding it be banned and another accusing an officer of sexual assault. She was the only one to complain publicly about a practice that can bring shame upon the victim in a conservative society.

A small group of women gathered outside the court building, holding banners. One said, “Women of Egypt are a red line.”

The ruling “is incredibly important not only because it comes after scenes of sexual assault and battery of women by military troops,” said Heba Morayef, an Egypt researcher with HRW. “It is also important because it is the first time a civilian court acknowledged and criticized abuse by the military.”

At first the military denied administering virginity tests.

Source: AP