Today’s abrupt halt of the US military court hearing of five alleged plotters of the 11 September 2001 attacks is just the latest in a string of serious incidents that have marked the inherently unfair military commission process at Guantánamo Bay, Amnesty International said.
Minutes after the hearing began, the military judge called a recess after one of the defendants, Yemeni national Ramzi bin al-Shibh, told the court he had previously seen a court-appointed interpreter in CIA black sites where detainees had been tortured.
“If these allegations are true, then the interpreter’s presence alongside the former black site detainees is deeply unsettling. The defence teams should be able to interview him as a likely witness to torture and enforced disappearance,” said Anne FitzGerald, Director of the Research and Crisis Response Programme at Amnesty International, who was present in the courtroom in Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
“The release of the Senate torture report and today’s developments during the military commission hearing put the US government in a paradoxical situation: the courtroom at Guantánamo Bay is piling further injustice on top of impunity for torture.”
This week’s hearing is the first in the case of the alleged 9/11 plotters since the December 2014 release of a Senate committee report summary detailing torture methods used as part of a secret US detention and interrogation programme.