[JURIST] Four Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prisoners filed a motion [text, PDF] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Sunday asking the federal court to order the prison’s officials to stop the practice of force-feeding hunger strikers. In their motion, Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Belbacha, Nabil Hadjarab and Abu Wa’el Dhiab alleged that the practice violates human rights law and medical ethics, while serving “no penological interest.” They also noted that they have all been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and have since determined that it is not likely they will ever be charged or released, and thus their being force-fed serves no military necessity. They requested an accelerated hearing on the issue in order to avoid any conflict [AP report] with the upcoming Islamic holiday Ramadan, which begins on the evening of July 8. US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler set a deadline [CNN report] of 12:00 PM EST on Wednesday for the government to respond. Currently, there are 166 detainees at the Guantanamo prison, of which 106 are on hunger strike.
Last month, a federal judge called on members of Congress and President Barack Obama [official website] to give serious consideration to formulating a different approach [JURIST report] for the handling of Guantanamo Bay detainee cases. Just days prior, Obama had appointed [JURIST report] Clifford Sloan to be the new envoy in charge of closing Guantanamo Bay. The appointment follows a speech [JURIST report] Obama made in May that outlined US counterterrorism policy and efforts. In his speech, he detailed the steps needed to get prisoners out of Guantanamo, but cautioned that he cannot close the facility on his own. In contrast, the House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved [JURIST report] the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [HR 1960, PDF] in early June, which allocates more than 200 million dollars to keep the detention center open.