US to Forcibly Return Four Guantanamo Prisoners to Algeria This Week
Cageprisoners has learned that the U.S. military is intending to forcibly repatriate four prisoners from Guantánamo Bay to Algeria on Monday, August 6, 2007. Amongst these prisoners is Ahmed Belbacha, a former British resident of Algerian origin, who was cleared for release by the U.S in February 2007 after having been deemed to ‘pose no threat’ to the USA.
Mr. Belbacha previously lived in the city of Bournemouth, England, where he sought asylum from persecution in Algeria, by both the government and the extreme elements in opposition to the regime. The probability of his persecution has only been enhanced by false accusations and assumptions against him coupled with the stigma that accompanies most Guantánamo returnees’ re-entry into society.
A U.S. federal judge indicated that she would likely have granted an order barring his refoulement (illegal return) to Algeria, based on evidence presented by his lawyers. However, under the Military Commissions Act promoted by the Bush Administration the judge felt she was powerless to prevent his forcible return to face torture. Diplomatic assurances from the Algerian government are highly unreliable given its past record of flagrant human rights violations. Mr. Belbacha has already suffered heavily at the hands of the United States military for over five years – without charge or trial –, and only intervention by the Supreme Court can prevent him being forwarded for the next chapter of abuse in Algeria. If returned to Algeria, he faces either being jailed and tortured by the Algerian government or being released and facing threats to his life from militants. Either way Mr. Belbacha’s life will be in grave danger.
URGENT ACTION REQUIRED
Time is running out for Ahmed Belbacha: write to the American authorities and tell them not to return Ahmed to Algeria. Write to the American Secretary of State and the American Secretary of Defence, as well as the American ambassador in London. Write to them to ensure that they act now.
At the earliest possible moment, please contact the State Department (U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520 — 202-647-4000) and the Department of Defense (http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/comment.aspx) to protest this action and demand compliance with the Convention Against Torture and the Refugee Convention.