Guantanamo prisoner, torture victim deserves justice: IHRC files amicus brief

As published by Bloomberg Business 

A Washington, D.C., court violated international human rights law when it denied one of the youngest persons held in Guantanamo Bay his right to redress for torture that he suffered while he was detained. That’s according to an amicus brief filed by The John Marshall Law School International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Brief author Professor Steven D. Schwinn says the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia erred when it dismissed the lawsuit of Mohammed Jawad, who was held at Guantanamo from 2003 until 2009. John Marshall has filed the only “friend of the court” brief on Jawad’s appeal thus far.

Jawad made international headlines as one of the youngest prisoners to be detained at Guantanamo. The government initially claimed that Jawad injured U.S. soldiers and their interpreter when he threw a grenade at a military vehicle in 2002. But a military judge ruled Jawad’s confession inadmissible, after learning that Jawad confessed only after he was tortured by Afghan police. The judge also found that Jawad suffered “abusive conduct and cruel and inhuman treatment” while wrongly detained at Guantanamo.

The government later dropped its case and maintained that Jawad was no longer detainable. After nearly seven years in wrongful detention, Jawad returned home to Afghanistan in 2009.

Jawad sued the U.S. government and several officials in 2014, claiming that while in detention he was beaten, kicked and pepper-sprayed; deprived of proper medical care; sexually humiliated; deprived of food and drink; and held in solitary confinement. The district court dismissed the case in summer 2015; Jawad appealed in September.

“The district court’s ruling denies Mr. Jawad an effective remedy and thus violates his well-settled right to an effective judicial remedy under international human rights law,” wrote Schwinn, co-director of John Marshall’s IHRC.

The responsibility of the U.S. to provide a judicial remedy is heightened because Jawad was a minor at the time, Schwinn noted. The brief continues the work of the International Human Rights Clinic fighting for lawful treatment of prisoners while incarcerated. The IHRC has produced research on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers, especially involving immigrant detainees.

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