Ten years ago, the first Guantánamo prisoners arrived at Camp X-Ray, housed in open-air cages with concrete floors. Here, former detainees and family members speak movingly about their memories of those still imprisoned there, the impact of Guantánamo on their own lives, and their hopes for the future.
One of the residents remembered is the last British man held there, Shaker Aamer, who has never been charged with an offence. After being detained in Afghanistan, Shaker was subsequently sold for a bounty to US forces, tortured in Bagram Air Force Base and Kandahar (with British agents as witnesses), before being transferred to Guantánamo for additional abuse.
Published reports indicate that Shaker is one of 89 among the 171 prisoners remaining in Guantánamo who has long been cleared for release from the prison. However, the law in the US as it currently stands requires that the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta must certify that Britain is a safe place for him to return to, and that he will commit no future crimes there – something that apparently Panetta has been unwilling to do.
Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith, who visited Shaker in November 2011 said: “I saw Shaker…and he tries to put a brave face on ten years of horrible abuse, but it is enough to wear any human being down almost to the point of death. Why does Britain pretend it has a Special Relationship if someone from London can be held for a decade without any due process, leaving his British wife without a husband and his British children without a father?
“Notwithstanding the fact that Britain has the best record of any country with former Guantánamo prisoners (nobody released has committed any offence), and that Shaker Aamer has anyway never committed a crime of any kind, the US Secretary of Defense is apparently not willing to certify that it would be safe for him to return here. It’s time someone in the British government told Leon Panetta what time of day it is.”
Notes to editors
1. With thanks to Nicole Paglia and Deborah Chang who created the film.
2.For further information on Shaker Aamer please go to http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/shakeraamer/ or contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082
3. Read Clive Stafford Smith's latest letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague on Shaker Aamer by downloading at the bottom of this page.
4. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.
Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list