Algerian detainees at Guantanamo to appear in Algeria’s courts

Algerian detainees at Guantanamo to appear in Algeria’s courts

Ech-Chorouk, June 11, 2007

Algerian detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba would be extradited to Algeria and appear in court, said well-informed sources. Investigations proved that none of the 26 Algerian detainees at Guantanamo Bay joined terrorist groups in Algeria, said the same sources.

According to the same sources, Algeria will ensure the constitutional protection for the Algerian detainees.

Additionally, Algeria said it rejected any U.S. condition likely to infringe upon Algeria’s sovereignty.

Algerian officials also said Washington had to extradite the Algerian detainees to the authorities of their homeland before appearing in court.

On the other hand, Algeria would not comply with the U.S. “instructions” on “putting them in prison” without charges, said well-informed sources.

Algeria also refused to deal with the detainees’ issue in a selective way and this constituted one of disagreement reasons between Algeria and the U.S. about the issue of Guantanamo detainees, said the same sources.

In this regard, an American delegation arrived in Algeria few days ago to hold talks with Algerians on the “fate” of Guantanamo detainees, said close sources.

It’s worth recalling that the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues who visited Algiers last Saturday April 21 2007, discussed with the Algerian Foreign Ministry’s officials the case of 25 Algerians now in detention in the notorious Guantanamo concentration camp which closure has also been high on the two sides’ discussions agenda.

The same source revealed to Echorouk that 6 or 7 from the Algerians detained in Guantanamo are Bosnian citizens. They were all arrested in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bosnia.

The closure of the camp was a personal will and decision of the American President George Walker Bush, while giving no indication on when the outlawed camp would happen. Yet, it is likely to be closed by the end of 2007 or in the beginning of 2008, the same sources told Echorouk.

The closure of Guantanamo camp is a consequence of Human rights groups’ denunciation of torture, and human rights violations. The file has also damaged the reputation of the US Administration.

American President G.W Bush had previously announced he would discuss the issue with countries concerned about the deportation of their nationals to the home countries after the closure, but in Algeria’s case, a lack of any deportation treaties with the United States is a hurdle in the finalisation of the operation.

It is worth recalling that the Algerian Justice Minister said a solution would be found for this purpose and that a treaty was being prepared while Washington insists on guarantees before deporting any prisoner to its native country’s authorities although human rights organisations had previously spoken of “exactions” in the very Guantanamo Bay Camp.

In the 26 names list, there is a vague mention about the date and the place several people were arrested in or others for whom there are “no further information.” For these, Algerian authorities have found difficulties in dealing with them. Others, including the 7 people who were arrested in Bosnia, are well-known for the Algerian authorities. Several others were taken in Pakistan or Afghanistan or in the border between the two neighbouring Asian countries.

The Chairperson of the National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Mr Farouk Ksentini said his institution sent a letter to the US authorities in which he called for a release of the Algerian detainees.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem for his part previously said that Algerians detained in Guantanamo even if “Algeria has the right to defend the detainees and call for their release even if they are bi-nationals” while some of the latter were released by the US authorities after their second countries requested it.

Echorouk had previously talked to the lawyer in charge of the Algerian cases in Guantanamo, Mr. Robert B. Kirsch who said, Algerians detained in Guantanamo underwent the worst forms of torture. For the same lawyer, Algerians went through difficult times in the camp and were sometime forced not to sleep for investigation purposes.

They all suffer from psychological and health problems, according to Mr. Kirsch.

On Tuesday, the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights blamed the conditions of the prisoners at Guantanamo, saying that « the legal black hole of Guantanamo is an unconscionable mistake ».