The Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster invites you to a panel discussion on the present and future of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and the use of torture on those who continue to be held by the US Government.

Background

It has now been almost 15 years since the prison at Guantanamo was opened, with over 150 men being rendered to the site in January 2002. Over 600 others were added to the prison population by 2008, with the prison becoming a clear symbol of abuses at the heart of President Bush's 'war on terror'.

Despite President Obama's calls to close the prison, it remains open to this day. Of the 60 men still detained, 20 have now been cleared for release. The rest are either facing trial through the Military Commission System — a hugely controversial military justice system, which provides limited rights to defendants — or else continue to be held indefinitely. 25 have been designated as 'forever prisoners' and will certainly remain detained beyond Obama's term in office.

Torture remains at the heart of Guantanamo, whether through the introduction of evidence that was gathered under torture by the CIA, or the routine use of torture to discipline those held at the base. Understanding the relationship between the use of torture and the detention of terror suspects as part of the 'war on terror' remains an urgent task, as does continuing to press for accountability for those who designed and oversaw the torture programme.

About the panel

The discussion will be chaired by Dr Sam Raphael, Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster and Co-Director of The Rendition Project.

Speakers on the panel will include:

Alka Pradhan, Human Rights Counsel at the Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions
Alka Pradhan represents Ammar al-Baluchi, one of the 9/11 accused and a former CIA secret prisoner, at the Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions. She was previously Counter-Terrorism Counsel at Reprieve US, where she represented a number of Guantanamo Bay detainees in litigation involving habeas corpus claims and conditions of detention. She also conducted advocacy and litigation on behalf of civilian victims of the targeted killing (drone) programme in Yemen and Pakistan, and has advised the US government on compliance with international legal obligations.

Andy Worthington, freelance investigative journalist
Andy has been specialising in Guantanamo — and working to close the prison — for the last 10 years. He co-founded the ongoing Close Guantánamo campaign, and the We Stand With Shaker campaign, which in 2014–15 was part of a successful campaign to secure the release from Guantanamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison.

Carla Ferstman, Director, REDRESS
REDRESS is a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice and reparation. It works with survivors to help restore their dignity and to make torturers accountable. Carla Ferstman joined REDRESS in 2001 as its Legal Director and became the Director in 2005. Prior to joining REDRESS, she worked with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in post-genocide Rwanda, with Amnesty International's International Secretariat as a legal researcher on trials in Central Africa and as Executive Legal Advisor to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees.

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