The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report alleging that Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US all participated in human rights violations against Abd al-Rahim Hussein al-Nashiri, a man accused of assisting in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Al-Nashiri is currently held in Guantanamo Bay Prison, though he is alleged to have been detained in the the territories of each of these countries, with the US being the primary perpetrator of his extended detention. While the report was authored in 2022, the Working Group waited until 2023 to release it.
The report contains graphic descriptions of “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including prolonged forced nudity, sleep deprivation, physical beatings, waterboarding, prolonged forced standing while chained, restrictive confinement in a small box, exposure to cold temperatures and forced rectal feeding after prolonged food deprivation. A source in the report alleges that al-Nashiri in particular was subjected to waterboarding multiple times. The US Department of Defense (DOD) allegedly appointed a medical expert in treating torture victims to assess al-Nashiri. That expert claimed al-Nashiri was one of the “most severely traumatized individuals” she had ever treated.
The report concludes by finding that al-Nashiri has been “deprived of a fair trial” and that “[t]he submissions that Mr. al-Nashiri was tortured stand unrefuted.” The report goes on to state, “While the Working Group has specifically addressed Mr. al-Nashiri’s case in this opinion, the conclusions reached here also apply to other detainees in similar situations at Guantanamo Bay.”
In Poland’s response to the report, it cited the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case Al Nashiri v. Poland, which identified several incidences of human rights violations. In that case, Poland paid restitution. Romania also mentioned its own ECHR case, Al Nashiri v. Romania, which found that Romania erred in allowing al-Nashiri to be transferred out of its territory despite knowing he would likely be subject to further undisclosed detention by the US. Morocco claimed that after an investigation into their own conduct, the government found no reason to believe that al-Nashiri was ever in Morocco during his detention.
Afghanistan, Thailand, the UAE and the US did not respond to the allegations according to the report.
This is the latest in a series of condemnations from the UN concerning the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay Prison. In March, the UN Human Rights council called for the closure of Guantanamo “without further delay.” Al-Nashiri’s treatment has also been the subject of scrutiny by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which found in its report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program that al-Nashiri had been threatened with a gun and a drill during an interrogation.
Al-Nashiri’s trial process has been a long one, with his next pre-trial hearing scheduled for sometime between August 21 and September 15. The DOD announced media would be allowed to watch via CCTV.