[JURIST] Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Djamel Ameziane filed a petition [brief, PDF] with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] seeking reparations from the US government for human rights violations he alleges that he endured while in custody. Ameziane was forcibly returned to his home country of Algeria in December 2013, despite his protests that he would be subjected to persecution based on his ethnic minority status and in violation of IACHR precautionary measures. Ameziane was held for 12 years in Guantanamo Bay without charge and claims he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse there in violation of the Articles I, II, III, IV, V, VI, XI, XXIII, XXV, and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man [text]. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [official website] is representing Ameziane’s case [materials] against the government, and this new filing with the IACHR marks the first time [CCR press release] the IACHR will consider a case against US arising from Guantanamo Bay. Ameziane is seeking compensation for the human rights violations, the return of the money seized from him upon his arrest and to require the US to “adopt all measures necessary to guarantee the safety and integrity of all men remaining” at Guantanamo.
Ameziane’s petition comes in the midst of continued controversy surrounding US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Earlier this month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the release [JURIST report] of eight videos depicting forced-feeding at Guantanamo Bay as part of Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s suit against the federal government. At the beginning of September, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama is considering a “wide array” [JURIST report] of options for closing the prison. While Earnest said that Congressional consent would be the best means to shut the facility down, he would not rule out executive action as a last resort. The Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST backgrounder] was set up in 2002 by the Bush administration as a facility to hold the most dangerous war criminals. At its peak in 2003, the prison had a population of 684 inmates. When Obama took office in 2008, one of his first stated objectives was to close the facility, but he has faced considerable opposition in achieving that goal. On July 1, US Secretary of State John Kerry appointed [JURIST report] Lee Wolowsky to effectuate the closure of Guantanamo Bay.