Target: Attorney General Eric Holder
Goal: Publicly apologize for the treatment of Guantanamo prisoner and release all Guantanamo detainees already cleared for release
Adnan Latif, a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, was found dead in his cell on September 10th, 2012. He was 32 at the time, having spent over a decade detained in the prison despite court rulings in 2004, 2007, 2009, and again in 2010 that demanded the Obama Administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Latif’s release forthwith.” This was due to the lack of evidence that Latif had committed any crime at all.
Latif was picked up by Pakistani authorities near the border of Afghanistan where he had sought treatment for a head-injury suffered in 1994. In 2004, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay and had the distinction of being one of the first detainees. The Obama Administration appealed the the 2010 court ruling based on a policy of not transferring detainees to Yemen (where Latif was originally from).
Latif was suicidal and mentally unstable. He had also written letters that described torture at the hands of his detainers as well as the general misery and suffering he faced at Guantanamo. Latif’s attorney has stated that his client was denied proper treatment for seizures he suffered from as a result of his head injury.
According to Professor Sarah Knuckey, a former UN advisor on extrajudicial executions, when an individual dies in detention there is a presumption under international law of government responsibility. Thus, the government has an obligation to either accept responsibility for the death or to affirmatively demonstrate that it was not responsible for the death.
Adnan Latif was only one of a number of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay despite being cleared for release. Latif suffered from mental instability that was undoubtably exacerbated by the conditions his imprisonment and by the potential of indefinite detention. The U.S. Government had an obligation to release Latif and it seems evident that his persistant denial of freedom played a role in his deteriorating condition while in detainment.
The Obama Administration must take responsibility for their role in this tragedy. Tell the Department of Justice to apologize publicly for the treatment of Adnan Latif and to ensure the release of all other detainees cleared for release.
Dear Attorney General Eric Holder,
I am writing this letter to denounce the decision of the Department of Justice to repeatedly refuse the release of Guantanamo Bay detainee Adnan Latif. Latif had been cleared for release in 2004, 2007, 2009, and again in 2010. He had been swept up by Pakistani officials with a group of other Arab men and there was no evidence that linked him to any crime. Latif suffered from neurological and mental problems that were not addressed during his time in prison. This, along with the misery of indefinite detention, likely resulted in his unexplained death in detention in 2012.
Adnan Latif is only one of a number of individuals who have been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay but have been repeatedly denied release. Your administration has defended this policy as a security measure, but these detainees are innocent and their further detention is more than inhumane. It is unconstitutional and it gives a reason for them and others to inculcate violent hostility towards the U.S.
There should never be another story like Latif’s. Unfortunately, many of these detainees see no chance of release in the near future. This does not have to be so. They are innocent and deserve release. I ask you, as Attorney General, to publicly apologize for the treatment of Adnan Latif and to take responsibility for his death. I also ask you to ensure the release of all prisoners already cleared for release so what happened to Adnan Latif is not repeated.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Witnesstorture.org