The Iraqi Justice Ministry on April 15 temporarily closed Abu Ghraib prison due to security concerns. Reports indicate that Iraqi authorities are concerned about the growing power of a Sunni-backed insurgency within the Anbar province, in close proximity to the prison grounds. A government official reportedly announced wednesday, however, that the prison's closure was temporary until security issues can be resolved. In the meantime, the government has transferred approximately 2,400 inmates to other high security prisons throughout the nation.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica announced on March 20 that his country has agreed with US President Barack Obama to take five inmates at Guantánamo Bay, reportedly stating that they would be "welcome to work and stay with their families in Uruguay." Obama is attempting to live up to his promise to release the remaining prisoners at the camp and to close the facility, but there are still 154 remaining detainees. The five prisoners will be granted refugee status in Uruguay, and though Mujica reportedly agreed to the proposal for humanitarian reasons, he has also acknowledged the possibility of some reciprocal action from the United States, reportedly stating, "I don't do favors for free." Mujica has some personal connection to the prisoners' scenario, having been detained for fourteen years as a guerrilla fighter by the 1973-1985 Uruguayan dictatorship.
The US Department of Defense on March 12 announced the transfer of Guantánamo detainee Ahmed Belbacha to Algeria. Belbacha, a native Algerian who was detained in Pakistan in 2002, had been held at Guantánamo for 12 years without a trial or formal charges. Algeria tried Belbacha in absentia in 2009, convicting him of belonging to an "overseas terrorist group," and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Belbacha has resisted repatriation until recently after beiong cleared for transfer by the Guantánamo Review Task Force. After the transfer, 154 detainees remain at Guantánamo Bay.
Emad Abdullah Hassan filed a federal lawsuit on March 11 in the US District Court for the District of Columbia that challenges the force-feeding procedures at the Guantánamo Bay military prison. Hassan, who has been held in Guantanamo since 2002, alleges that he has been force-fed more than 5,000 times since 2007 in an effort to end his hunger strike. Hassan's case will be the first time at a court will review the force-feeding procedures used at Guantanamo since the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled (PDF) last month that federal judges have jurisdiction to hear such cases. Hassan's attorney argues that the force-feeding procedures amount to torture and says that he hopes the lawsuit will force the military to hand over documents regarding detainee policies and procedures.
British police counter-terrorism forces announced on Feb. 25 the arrest of Moazzam Begg in his hometown of Birmingham, England, along with three other individuals on suspicion of terrorism offenses related to the war in Syria. Begg was a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, and he was one of the last detainees from the UK to be returned. British authorities have expressed concern about their citizens fighting in jihadist groups in Syria, and Begg is the most high profile arrestee in connection with the UK's attempt to minimize influence in the Syrian conflict. The police reported Begg is suspected of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas. According to British counter-terrorism laws, the police are authorized to detain Begg for up to 14 days, and police will conduct a search of the arrestee's vehicles and electronic devices.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Feb. 6 that Iraqi security officials are detaining thousands of women illegally and subjecting them to torture, ill-treatment and threats of sexual abuse. HRW found that officials are coercing confessions and holding trial proceedings far below the international standard. HRW's report includes interviews with imprisoned women, their families, their lawyers and prison medical staff, along with court documents and information from meetings with Iraqi officials. This report came after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki promised to reform Iraq's criminal justice system in January 2013. Maliki said that his reforms would begin with releasing falsely imprisoned women.
World War 4 Report has been keeping a dispassionate record of Barack Obama's moves in dismantling, continuing and escalating (he has done all three) the oppressive apparatus of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) established by the Bush White House. On the day of his 2014 State of the Union address, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves over the past year have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:
A spokesperson for Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Jan. 9 said that the administration will be releasing 72 prisoners the United States considers dangerous militants from Bagram prison, stating that there was not enough evidence to continue to hold them. The government said that there was no evidence against 45 of the detainees and that there was insufficient evidence against the other 27 to bring them to trial. Karzai's spokesperson stated that the continued detention of the prisoners was an illegal violation of Afghan sovereignty, and that the government could not allow Afghan citizens to be held for months and years at a time without being subject to trial. A US State Department spokeswoman reportedly responded to the decision by stating that the 72 prisoners are dangerous criminals and that there is strong evidence linking them to terrorist activities and the killings of Afghan citizens and US troops.