Shaker Aamer's Guantánamo decade

I've blogged about Shaker Aamer numerous times in the past few years and, in a way, there's little more to say.

Here's a man who has been held without charge (never mind a trial) at Guantánamo for ten whole years (it's ten years to the day tomorrow in fact). The camp, now notorious and widely-condemned, received its first orange-suited detainees on 11 January 2002, so Shaker has been there for almost the entire time this miserable place has existed.

But, in another way there's still plenty to say about this continuing travesty of justice. The USA (like many developed, influential countries) is often forthright in its condemnation of other countries because of their poor human rights records (Iran, Burma, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela spring to mind). But over Guantánamo it's been blind to its own (enormous) failings. The beam in its own eye …

In today's Independent Amnesty's Kate Allen reflects on the unconscionable delay in either bringing Shaker to trial or releasing him. "Ten years", she says, "is a long time". Yes, long enough if you've been properly convicted and are serving a prison sentence (which of course Shaker Aamer isn't). But ten years without even being charged with an offence makes a complete mockery of the law (US law and international law). The same can be said for almost all of the other 170 detainees still held at the camp without a trial (just four have been tried and even they have been put through the kangaroo court-like process of a  "military commission").

Ten years is a long time and indeed it’s literally a lifetime for Shaker Aamer's youngest son, who was born on the very day (14 February 2002) that Shaker was rendered to Guantánamo. That of course means that father and son have been separated for the child’s entire life.

(Meanwhile for a longer read on his case, see this very interesting piece from Gareth Pierce, who denounces UK intransigence over securing justice for what she calls Britain's "16th Guantánamo hostage").

In letters published by the Independent, Shaker Aamer says “Please torture me the old way. Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks.” It’s a harrowing thought.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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