Guantánamo force-feeding timeline

 

2013

  • June 30th A group of hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees, represented by Reprieve and co-counsel Jon Eisenberg, files litigation in US Federal Court asking the court to force the US government stop force-feeding (Aamer v. Obama). 

 

 

  • July 10th – Senators Feinstein and Durbin write to President Obama asking that he stop force-feeding detainees and fulfill his promise to close the prison as soon as possible.

 

  • October 18thThe appeal in the consolidated force-feeding case, Aamer v. Obama, is argued in Washington, DC.

 

2014

  • February 11th The key decision is handed down which paves the way to subsequent force-feeding litigation. In Aamer v. Obama the US Court of Appeals in D.C rules that the Federal Court has jurisdiction to consider claims that the treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay is unlawful. The court writes that detainees should be given a “meaningful opportunity” to challenge the legality of force-feeding.  However, it refuses to ban force-feeding outright, and also rules that detainees couldn’t be considered ‘persons’ with respect to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), thus allowing the prison to continue to prevent detainees’ religious practices such as communal prayer. 

 

  • March 11th The first post-Aamer case challenging force-feeding is filed in Hassan v. Obama by Reprieve, Jon Eisenberg, and Lewis Baach. Emad Hassan is a cleared Yemeni who has been on hunger strike since 2007.

 

  • April 18thAfter the Court of Appeals mandate issues in his case, Abu Wa’el Dhiab files a further case in DC Court challenging abusive force-feeding practices.

 

 

  • May 14th – We also file a motion on behalf of Emad Hassan asking the government to disclose previously-secret versions of the Standard Operating Procedure protocols for force-feeding and the use of restraint chairs.

 

 

  • May 19thReprieve lawyers file an emergency motion seeking the preservation of FCE and force-feeding tapes of clients Emad Hassan and Ahmed Rabbani. 

 

  • May 21st Judge Gladys Kessler orders the US government to hand over 34 tapes of Abu Wa’el Dhiab being force-fed and FCE’d, as well as his medical records. 

 

  • May 22nd – Judge Gladys Kessler issues an order to lift the temporary restraining order placed on the force-feeding of Mr Dhiab, but orders the government to hand over the force-feeding tapes. She criticizes the Department of Defense for its “intransigence,” which made it impossible to litigate the case “in a civilized and appropriate manner”.  

 

  • June 2ndReprieve lawyers file an emergency motion seeking the release of FCE and force-feeding tapes of clients Emad Hassan and Ahmed Rabbani.

 

  • June 12th After Ahmed Rabbani tells his lawyers that the prison authorities keep confiscating Mr Dhiab’s wheelchair and were escalating their brutal treatment of him, Reprieve files an emergency motion in Mr Dhiab’s case seeking a second TRO (temporary restraining order) on his force-feeding and asks that the authorities return his wheelchair. Mr Rabbani had also told his lawyer that prison authorities stopped videotaping FCEs in response to the disclosure of some of this evidence.

 

  • June 18th Judge Gladys Kessler orders the government to hand over four more of the force-feeding tapes in the case of Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

 

 

  • June 26thJudge Kessler orders the US government to produce previously-secret force-feeding protocols. 

 

  • July 2ndReprieve lawyers ask the government to allow them to share details of the force-feeding tapes with other security-cleared Guantanamo counsel since the government has so far, in an unprecedented move, banned them from doing so.  

 

  • July 4thIn the wake of the US Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell,  ruling that companies are ‘people’ with religious free exercise rights under a US statute, two hunger striking detainees (Ahmed Rabbani and Emad Hassan), ask that the court afford the same rights to the men being held in Guantanamo. Prisoners who are hunger striking to protest their indefinite detention are banned from communal prayer. In the rest of the prison, ‘compliant’ (non-protesting) detainees are allowed to pray together.    

 

 

 

  • August 12th – US Judge orders that independent doctors be allowed into Guantanamo Bay to evaluate a long-time hunger striker whose health has deteriorated so much that there are now concerns for his life.

 

  • August 22nd – A federal judge orders Guantanamo authorities to explain why they are flouting a court order to allow an independent medical exam of a hunger-striking detainee. 

 

  • September 17th –  Two independent doctors raise concerns in federal court about the treatment of a long-term hunger-striker at Guantánamo Bay, warning that the prison authorities are inflicting needless physical harm on a frail man long cleared for release. 

 

  • September 24th An independent medical doctor who has examined cleared hunger-striker Abu Wa’el Dhiab at Guantánamo Bay determines that his treatment is ‘cruel and punitive’ and violates accepted medical practice in multiple ways, according to a medical report filed in federal court.

 

  • October 3rd – A federal judge refuses to hold the first-ever trial of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay behind closed doors, issuing a sharply-worded order calling the Obama Administration’s request for secrecy ‘deeply troubling.’

 

  • October 3rd – In a landmark decision, Judge Kessler orders the Administration to release the redacted video footage of Abu Wa’el Dhiab being force-fed to the public, describing the Government’s justifications for keeping the video evidence sealed as “unacceptably vague, speculative, lack[ing specificity, or… just plain implausible”. Alka Pradhan, Reprieve attorney to Mr Dhiab, said: “This may well be the most significant court decision on Guantanamo Bay in years”.

 

 

 

 

  • November 7th A federal judge slams the US government over its treatment of hunger-striking detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab. However, the court denies relief after the government made last-minute reversals to force-feeding practices. 

 

  • November 20th Medical groups including the American Nurses Association come out in support of a nurse who refused to force-feed a hunger striking Guantanamo detainee.

 

 

 

2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016

 

 

UPDATE: The litigation over the release of the force-feeding videos release is continuing; it is a First Amendment question which goes beyond Dhiab’s imprisonment.

Reprieve however no longer represents or assists Abu Wa’el Diab.