Further to a highly welcomed decision by the US to approve BHRC as one of only two non-US NGOs with International Observer status, BHRC has for many years kept a watching brief on the use of the detention facility at the United States Naval Base, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and procedural developments in the Military Commissions established under the Military Commissions Act 2009. BHRC has expressed its concerns on the continued use of the detention facility together with broader issues arising out of the ‘War on Terror’, including extraordinary rendition and torture.
Jacob Bindman and Amanda Weston QC (both barristers at Garden Court Chambers in London and Members of the BHRC Executive Committee in 2020-21) visited the Base between 9 – 22 February 2020 in order to observe the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali (Ammar Al Baluchi), Walid Bin Attash and Mustafa Al Hawsawi. The five men are classed as “alien unprivileged enemy belligerents” and are being tried by the US Government under a specially created Military Commission system for a range of crimes relating to the planning of the 9/11 hijackings and attacks on the US.
This interim report provides an introduction to BHRC’s interest in the proceedings and its plans to continue a programme of trial observations. It addresses the situation and status of the proceedings monitored at the time of the two missions conducted by BHRC. This report gives a flavour of the impact on progress of the departures from the principles of a fair trial, the resulting procedural complexity of the largest terrorism trials in US history and the factors influencing their glacial pace. Once further observations can be carried out, we will publish updated reports.