ישנם מעל 385 כלואים במפרץ גואנטאנמו (Guantanmo Bay) ויותר מחצי לא ראו עורך דין. ישנם מעל 14,000 כלואים בבתי כלא סודיים ברחבי העולם, ושעל בנייתם הייתה אחראית ממשלת ארה"ב, כחלק מה"מלחמה בטרור". לכן האסירים הכלואים במפרץ גואנטאנמו מייצגים רק חצי מתוך 3% שזכו לקבל איזה שהוא צורה של ייצוג חוקי.
סטפורד סמית' ( Stafford Smith ) והצוות שלו עבדו מעל שלוש שנים כדי להיות לייצג חלק מהאסירים של מפרץ גואנטאנמו והם עבדו קשה כדי לקבל את הרשימה של הנידונים במקום (שום רשימה של אסירים ניתנה עד ל-15.05.2006) וזאת רק לאחר שבית המשפט העליון קבע שלאסירים ניתן לקבל גישה לייצוג חוקי אבל רק אם כל אחד מהאסירים באופן אינדיוידאולי ביקש ייצוג שכזה. סטפורד סמית' נסע ברחבי המזרח התיכון, צפון ודרום אפריקה, דרום אסיה לאסוף חתימות מהמשפחות של האסירים וחלק גדול מהם לא היה מודע לכך שחברי המשפחה הללו הוחזקו בידי צבא ארה"ב בצד השני של הכדור.
'Secret Prisons & Ghost Prisoners'
He began by introducing usto the many shortcomings and biases that pervade the 'open justice system' (hestated that he used the term 'justice' loosely in this context) that he and histeam work with in theUS. These shortcomings in thecriminal justice system have not surprisingly led to ennumerable mistakes andmiscarriages of justice, demonstrated by hundreds of their clients formerly ondeath row, who are now exonnerated and free, thanks to the years of hard workput in by Reprieve, The Innocence Project and many other individuals who workvoluntarily. See: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=6&did=110 and http://www.reprieve.org
The case of Ryan Matthews held ondeath row inLouisiana was particularly poignant. Ajuvenile, black (which Stafford Smith stated tended to be an aggravatingcircumstance inLouisiana) and also mentally handicappedspent 4 years on death row despite being exonnerated by DNA evidence six times. (See: http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/newab031/05_Ryan.html and http://www.innocenceproject.org/case/display_profile.php?id=148) Ifthings are this bad in an 'open justice system' just imagine how bad they couldget in a closed one? Where the defendant has no access to a lawyer, doesn't knowthe charges against him/her, or the evidence these charges are basedon.
There are 385 prisoners inGuantanmoBayand over half have never seen alawyer. There are a further 14,000 prisoners in secret prisons around the world, run by the United States in its "War on Terror" and so Guantanmo Bay prisonersrepresent just 3% of those held illegaly and only half of this 3% have access tosome form of legal representation.
It took Stafford Smith and his team 3 years just to be able to take on some of theGuantanmoBayprisoners as clients. They haveworked hard to obtain the lists of the detainees held at Guantanmo (no list ofprisoners was given until after May 15th 2006), and after a Supreme Court rulingwhich stated that prisoners were allowed to have access to legal representationbut required confirmation from each individual prisoner that they wantedlegal representation; he travelled around the Middle East, North Africa andSouth Asia collecting signatures from family members – many of whom were unawaretheir family members were currently being held by the US military half wayaround the world.
One of his clients is Mohammed ElGharani, originally fromChadbut brought up inSaudiArabia. He had no access to a lawyer for 4 years while in Guantanmo. He is 14 years old. Yes just 14, though theUSmilitary insisted he was 28, untilStafford Smith produced a birth certificate for him proving his age. This birthcertificate is also instrumental to proving that Mohammed was not involved in a 1998 bomb plot inLondonthat he is being accused of, asthis would make him only 11 years old at the time. His passport alsodemonstrates that he has never leftSaudiArabia, only to travel toPakistanto learn English and studycomputers, where he was handed to US military officials who transported him toBagram for interrogation.
One anecdote Stafford Smith told Ithink perfectly illustrates the incompetence and ignorance that characterisethis foolish "war on terror": When Mohammed was being interrogated in Bagram theUSused a Yemeni translator. HoweverYemeni Arabic is quite different from Saudi Arabic. For example 'zlata' meansmoney in Yemeni Arabic but tomatoes or salad in Saudi Arabic. When he was beingquestioned about how much 'zlata' he had brought with him toPakistan, Mohammed became quite confused. Why are they asking me about salad? Well knowing that Americans are quite stangeanyway, he responded saying he didnt bring any 'zlata' with him, he didnt needany, he could get 'zlata' wherever he wanted. At this point theUSinterrogators became very excited, a major Al Qaeda financier, they thought! Where can you get 'zlata'? InKarachi? Who do you get 'zlata' from? Mohammed obliges by describing various markets and vegetable stands, differentareas and neighbourhoods, where he could get 'zlata'. A major Al Qaeda moneylaundering operation, the USinterrogators conclude! And 14year old Mohammed El Gharani is transported to Guantanmo where he spends thenext 4 years of his life in appalling dehumanizing conditions, stressful for anyperson, but more so for a child, without access to a lawyer. And still to thisday is awaiting freedom. See: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/casework_mohammedelgharani.htm
This may sound unbelievable. It mayseem unfathomable that such ridiculous and base mistakes are made. However thisis everything the "war on terror" is – and these kind of mistakes are madeeveryday and people pay with their lives.
This is enough for now. I willwrite more tomorrow and tell you about the amazing humour of Binyam Mohammed, who despite being held for years and tortured most grotesquely still manages todisplay his humanity, intelligence and wit to both his lawyer and to those whokeep him locked up. About Ahmed Errachidi, undisputably innocent, but who iscalled 'The General' by his US captors based on the belief that he is a top AlQaeda general, despite the incontrovertible evidence that provesotherwise.
יהודה שנהב, דמוקרטיה במצב חירום, ספרים – הארץ