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Guantanamo Bay

    August 18, 2017

    By Aubrey Harris, Amnesty Canada's Coordinator for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Follow Aubrey on Twitter @AmnestyCanadaDP

    The fact that torture occurred in Guantanamo Bay is not news. Not only did former president Barack Obama state it bluntly as “we tortured some people,” even former vice-president Dick Cheney implied it in his “dark side” quote justifying some forms of torture. International law, however, is explicit in it. The International Convention Against Torture makes clear that any statement extracted as the product of torture cannot be used except as proof that the torture occurred.

    Efforts to present the public perception of torture as “acceptable” exist not only in the tough-guy films of Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino, but most explicitly in the propaganda film “Zero Dark Thirty.” For the first 25 minutes of the film, a man is portrayed being tortured by operatives at CIA black sites in order to obtain information to find Osama bin Laden.

    January 09, 2015

    We will never stop speaking out for the human rights of all individuals at home and abroad. It is part of who we are as a people and what we stand for as a Nation
    President Barack Obama, 9 December 2014.

    Thirteen months of detentions at Guantánamo was already far too long. By then, February 2003, the Secretary of Defense had authorized interrogation techniques that violated the international ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    Thirteen years is a human rights outrage. Detainees held for year after year without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, excessive force, force feeding, a handful of prosecutions under a  military commission system that does not meet international fair trial standards.

    There were 245 detainees still held at the base at the end of President President Barack Obama committed his administration to closing the Guantánamo detention facility “promptly” and at the latest by 22 January 2010.

    October 28, 2014

    By Omar Khadr, former Guatanamo Bay detainee

    Ten years ago the Canadian government established a judicial inquiry into the case of Maher Arar. That inquiry, over the course of more than two years of ground-breaking work, examined how Canada’s post-Sept. 11 security practices led to serious human rights violations, including torture.

    At that same time, 10 years ago and far away from a Canadian hearing room, I was mired in a nightmare of injustice, insidiously linked to national security. I have not yet escaped from that nightmare.

    As Canada once again grapples with concerns about terrorism, my experience stands as a cautionary reminder. Security laws and practices that are excessive, misguided or tainted by prejudice can have a devastating human toll.

    A conference Wednesday in Ottawa, convened by Amnesty International, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the University of Ottawa, will reflect on these past 10 years of national security and human rights. I will be watching, hoping that an avenue opens to leave my decade of injustice behind.

    May 07, 2013

    “Given the uncertainty and anxieties surrounding their prolonged and apparently indefinite detention in Guantánamo, it is scarcely surprising that people’s frustrations boil over and they resort to such desperate measures.”  High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the latest Guantánamo hunger strikes