In Search of a Forum for the Families of the Guantanamo Disappeared

In Search of a Forum for the Families of the Guantanamo Disappeared

Published By 90 Denver University Law Review 433 (2012)

Abstract: The United States government has committed grave human rights violations by disappearing people during the past decade into the detention camps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And for nearly thirty years, beginning with a 1983 decision from a case arising in Uruguay, there has been a well-developed body of international law establishing that parents, wives and children of the disappeared suffer torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (CID).

This paper argues that the rights of family members were severely violated when their loved ones were disappeared into Guantanamo. Family members of men disappeared by the United States have legitimate claims for torture or CID against the government under both international law and American law. However, rather than providing a forum to address the plaintiffs’ sufferings of egregious human rights violations, the United States seeks to block all claims and evade accountability. In skirting claims, the United States has proven to be a powerful and skilled adversary both domestically and internationally.

My work with the Witness to Guantanamo project — in which we have filmed full-length interviews of former detainees and others, including military and government officials who have lived or worked in Guantanamo and family members of former detainees — has inspired me to write this article, and informs its content. Our nation must address its human rights violations.

Published: April 30, 2012