Howard Law Movement Lawyering Clinic Submits Urgent Complaint to UN Special Rapporteurs On Behalf of Guantanamo Detainee



WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 11, 2021) — Today, on the nineteenth anniversary of the first transfer of men to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, the Movement Lawyering Clinic at Howard University School of Law submitted an urgent complaint to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Health and Torture on behalf of Mr. Sharqawi Al Hajj. Mr. Al Hajj, a client of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has been detained in Guantanamo for eighteen years without charge or trial. Exacerbated by the torture he endured at the behest and hands of the U.S. government and his indefinite detention, Mr. Al Hajj suffers from severe illness, which has resulted in multiple attempts at suicide. 

The complaint respectfully requests that the United Nations Special Rapporteurs urge the U.S. Government to: 

  1. Release and safely repatriate or resettle Mr. Sharqawi Al Hajj; 
  2. Close Guantánamo Bay and end indefinite detention; 
  3. In the interim, allow detainees who suffer from serious medical issues meaningful access to effective treatment by outside independent medical providers;  
  4. Allow detainees, their lawyers, and consulting outside independent medical providers full access to detainees’ medical records in the control of the U.S. government; and 
  5. Allow the Special Rapporteurs full access to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and unfettered access to detainees. 

Citing to the lack of effective medical care, the unethical nature of doctor-patient relationships at the detention facility, and the debilitating psychological and physical effects of indefinite detention, the complaint details how Mr. Al Hajj's detention in Guantanamo Bay violates his rights to health and the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. 

“Mr. Sharqawi al Hajj is entitled to his right to health and right to be free from torture under international law. We hope that our complaint to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteurs turns the global spotlight on the United States, a country that purports to champion human rights and intervenes in other nations under the guise of correcting injustices while simultaneously violating the rights of detainees in its own custody,” says Astrid Diaz, a 2L and co-author of the complaint. 

"I can only hope that this petition helps to shed light and relieve Mr. Al Hajj of the awful condition he remains in. The injustice that has been done to him is undeniable and he deserves a future worth living," added Jasmine Bermudez, a 2L and co-author of the complaint. 

"As we look to a new Presidential administration, it is important that we remedy the wrongs of past administrations, including the continuing human rights abuses in Guantanamo," added Tasnim Motala, a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center and co-supervisor of the Movement Lawyering Clinic. 

The complaint was drafted by Bermudez (2L) and Diaz (2L). Motala supervised the complaint. 



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