Court: Gitmo Detainees Can’t Sue Over Torture


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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has found that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee cannot sue for damages for his subjection to enhanced interrogation techniques.

Mohamed Jawad of Pakistan filed a lawsuit in U.S. court seeking to recover damages for torture during his six-year detention at Guantanamo Bay. A three judge panel ruled that a 2006 law forbids federal courts from hearing such cases.

“By its clear terms, this provision strips federal courts of jurisdiction to hear most claims against the United States arising out of the detention of aliens like Jawad captured during the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith.

Jawad was arrested in December, 2002, for tossing a grenade at a U.S. military convoy — his family claims he was 12 when he was taken into custody, but his age is disputed by the U.S. Department of Defense. Jawad claimed he was a civilian worker who was assisting authorities in removing land mines when the grenade attack occurred. He was held at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay from 2003 until 2009, when U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ordered his release. (RELATED: Former Gitmo Detainee Vanishes Into Thin Air, Authorities Scramble)

Jawad eventually confessed to his involvement in the attack after prolonged subjection to enhanced interrogation techniques; he suffered sleep deprivation from blaring bright lights and loud music, was often left naked in his cell, was shackled for long periods of time in stressful positions, exposed to extremes of temperature, pepper-sprayed, beaten, and frequently was placed in prison blocs where others did not speak his language in order to engender a sense of loneliness and isolation. Jawad attempted suicide in 2003 by repeatedly charging head first into his cell wall.

Jawad’s case was taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which successfully argued that his confession was coerced and ought to be inadmissible, even before military tribunals. Huvelle found in his favor, and ordered the government to produce new justification for holding him at Guantanamo or to release him. Finding no case for his continued detention, Jawad was released in August 2009.

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