18 October 2013, 20:00

Gitmo force-feeding could end if Aamer wins appeal case

Gitmo force-feeding could end if Aamer wins appeal case

The Federal Court of Appeal is hearing Aamer appeal case on Friday. If it is won, it could end all force-feeding in Guantanamo. VoR’s correspondent Lyudmila Chernova gives more details about the case.

Shaker Aamer is a Saudi Arabian citizen and the last British resident held by the US in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba.

The today’s case called by some Aamer appeal was filed in June by the inmate’s lawyers. The case of Shaker Aamer versus Barack Obama is one of the four consolidated appeals, with Aamer’s being the leading one.

If it is won, it could end all force-feeding in the prison. The lawsuit alleges two human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay Prison. First, force-feeding of hunger striking detainees in order to prolong their indefinite detention. And secondly, deprivation of religious free exercise by denying hunger-strikers the right to pray in congregation.

The case was sent to the Federal Court and the US District Judge rejected the attempt by the detainees to end force-feeding. She said that the only person who can stop this torture is President Barack Obama. The lead attorney for the case believes that the Federal Court also has the power to do so. That’s why the case was taken to the DC Circuit Court of Appeal. And the people who brought up the issue were the lawyers for those who have already been cleared.

All hunger strikers were forced into solitary confinement in April 2013. A detainee had to consume nine consecutive meals to be taken off the strikers' list, and after that they were allowed into communal living. Also, inmates were deprived of performing nightly communal Ramadan prayers unless they stopped hunger striking, which is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). And force-feeding itself is a violation of the international law and medical ethics.

The main reason of the hunger strike was indefinite detention and force-feeding. At this point 16 men remain on the hunger strike and they are all force-fed. Following the events at Guantanamo on May 23 Obama renewed his pledge to close the prison, however since then only two prisoners were freed.

Currently there are 164 men at the facility, 84 of them have been cleared for release. But they remain there and among them is Aamer Shaker. He actually was cleared for release twice, first in 2007 and then in 2010.

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