The attorney for Belkacem Bensayah and Djamel Ameziane, two Algerian detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] said on Friday the two will oppose their release back to Algeria, which could take place as early as this week. The two claim they would likely face persecution should they be released back to their home country. The US is bound by its international obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture [text], as well as other international conventions, to prevent returning a national to a state where he or she will likely face persecution or torture. Bensayah has requested he be released to Bosnia, while Ameziane has asked to be released to Canada. Some human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], have alleged that it is a violation [WSJ report] of the Convention to release the individuals into a particular situation without their consent. Officials for the Obama Administration claim [AFP report] several other prisoners have been released to Algeria in the past and that they generally continue to monitor credible concerns surrounding released prisoners' safety. Of the 164 detainees currently being held in Guantanamo, 84 have currently been cleared for release.
Controversy has surrounded treatment of Guantanamo detainees since it began taking prisoners in 2002. Earlier this month, the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] ruled that media entities will not be allowed [JURIST report] to sit in on the first session of the Periodic Review Board hearings, parole-type hearings for detainees that were established by 2011 legislation. The week before, a military judge ordered the US government must submit reports [JURIST report] on prison conditions and removed restrictions on communications between lawyers and detainees. Last month, attorneys for 5 detainees attempted to declassify [JURIST report] the CIA interrogation program that allegedly subjected prisoners to torture. That same month a military judge refused to suspend pretrial hearings [JURIST report] in the ongoing case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants. In September, detainee Shaker Aamer [JURIST news archive] filed [JURIST report] a complaint against British security forces for delaying his scheduled release from Guantanamo.