UN Torture Convention

Guantanamo 9/11 Defendant Tells United Nations that U.S. Tortured Him.

Mustafa al-Hasawi, defendant # 5 in the 9/11 case

Mustafa al-Hasawi, defendant # 5 in the 9/11 case

A Guantanamo Bay defendant charged with planning the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon informed the United Nations Committee Against Torture that the U.S. tortured him.

In a 26 June 2016 filing, lawyers for Mr. Mustafa al-Hawsawi, alleged that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tortured him before sending him to Guantanamo Bay, where he has remained “for over a decade despite having yet to be tried by a regularly constituted court in compliance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions”.

The Al-Hawsawi team submitted documents to the UN Torture Committee, as part of the process through which the Committee seeks to ascertain whether the U.S. is complying with its obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“UN Torture Convention”), which is a treaty that the U.S. signed and ratified.

Walter Ruiz and Sean Gleason - Two lawyers for Mr. al-Hawsawi

Walter Ruiz and Sean Gleason – Two lawyers for Mr. al-Hawsawi

The al-Hawsawi team materials submitted to the Committee have 3 parts:

  • First, the submission reads, “as background to the questions that we suggest to you, we want to contrast the indisputable facts of Mr. al-Hawsawi’s situation to the misleading rhetoric our Government continues to use to deflect your questions”.
  • Second, the submission attached “a recently obtained, not previously released CIA document that shows Mr. al-Hawsawi was more extensively tortured than our Government previously admitted (Central Intelligence Agency, Disposition Memorandum: Alleged Use of Unauthorized Interrogation Techniques (“CIA Disposition Memo”)(6 December 2006)). The submission contends that within days of his rendition, Mr. al-Hawsawi’s rendition his ordeal and torture began, and that soon after the CIA concluded that Mr. al-Hawsawi “was not an individual with significant knowledge of al-Qaeda, and therefore was not “high-value”, and thereafter “another round of torture was ordered” and the US “continued to torture him for over three years.” They argue that at Guantanamo Bay the U.S. “has woefully neglected Mr. al-Hawsawi’s medical treatment and has completely failed to take any rehabilitative measures. The injuries were sustained because of his torture, and these daily painful reminders of his torture have never been medically remedied.
  • Third, they submitted a “communication we have made to various UN Special Procedures, which includes more extensive additional up-to-date information on the particular circumstances of Mr. al-Hawsawi.”
Mitch Robinson - Norway

Dr. Mitch Robinson (Center), International Law Specialist for Mr. al-Hawsawi. Dr. Robinson was Guest Researcher, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. (Right — Professor Mads Andenaes. Left — Mr. Joey Barefield)

The submission commented on “some specific assertions our Government’s representatives made at the United States’ review before the Committee Against Torture in November 2014”, and on the document titled “One-year Follow-up Response of the United States of America to Recommendations of the Committee Against Torture on its Combined Third to Fifth Periodic Reports on Implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“One-Year Follow-Up Response”).

The al-Hawsawi team alleged that “the United States Government is in current violation of the Convention Against Torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”.


Here is a copy of the al-Hawsawi United Nations Committee Against Torture Filing of 26 June 2016:

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The Committee Against Torture may receive other documents from non-governmental groups seeking to shed light on the U.S. Government’s compliance or non-compliance with the Torture Convention. The Committee will formulate a “List of Questions” to ask the U.S. government, and will expect the US to answer those questions before the U.S. Government is requested to appear at a UN Torture Committee hearing  and answer questions related to whether or not the U.S. is in compliance with the Torture Convention.

The next hearing that the Torture Convention holds at which the U.S. appears will likely be contentions, as have been previous Torture Committee hearings at which the U.S. appeared. The U.S. will likely remain firm in its believe that it does not engage in torture, while human rights groups, Guantanamo Bay defendants, and others will argue that the U.S. has breached, is breaching, and will likely continuing breaching the Torture Convention.

Today, 10 July 2016, the U.S. announced that it released an additional detainee – Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman of Yemen – who has been relocated to Italy. This brings the total detainee population at Guantanamo bay to 78.

The al-Hawsawi documents were submitted by the following:

  • Walter B. Ruiz, (Civilian Learned Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Suzanne M. Lachelier, (Detailed Civilian Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Sean M. Gleason,USMC, JAG (Detailed Military Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer N. Williams, USA, JAG (Assistant Detailed Military Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Mitch Robinson, Ph.D. (International Law Specialist for Mr. al-Hawsawi)


George Edwards