By Eddie Griffin
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Star-Telegram reported: Mohammed el Gharani, should be released from the U.S. prison in Cuba “forthwith”, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said in a ruling from the bench.
WASHINGTON (CNN) reports that the Chadian nationality was the youngest prisoner sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention center -- captured in Pakistan at 14… The judge ruled that el-Gharani, now 21, was not an enemy combatant and directed the military to take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate his release.
The U.S. government had claimed that el-Gharani had been a member of an al-Qaeda cell based in London since the age of 11.
BASG began blogging about the plight of Mohammed el Gharani and 37 other underage inmates identified by the International Red Cross, confined at the Guantanamo Bay facilities in May 2008. Children in combat zones have rights, both constitutionally and according to UN Convention. But the Bush administration had created what President-elect called a “legal black hole”.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the General Assembly in 1993 requested the Secretary-General to appoint an expert to study the impact of armed conflict on children. After two years of research, field visits and consultations, Graça Machel, the Secretary-General's Expert on the subject and a former Minister for Education in Mozambique, submitted a report, titled Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (document A/51/306 and Add. 1), to the 1996 session of the General Assembly.
The most fundamental premise of this report is that children simply have no part in warfare.
The United States and Somalia are the only two countries that have not signed the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, which was adopted by all other nations on November 20, 1989.
In a May 27, 2008 email to Ursula Wynhoven, United Nations Commission on Human Rights: (Source: http://eddiegriffinbasg.blogspot.com/2008/05/us-violates-human-rights-of-child.html)
The United States has captured a number of child-soldier combatants as young as 12 years old. The government has kept these cases hidden from the American public. These children are branded as “terrorists”. They have been detained in harsh facilities with adults, held for years without being charged, (some for up to six years)… One child prisoner, Mohamed el Gharani, is accused of involvement in a 1998 al-Qa'ida plot in London led by the alleged al-Qa'ida leader in Europe, Abu Qatada. But he was 12 years old at the time and living with his parents in Saudi Arabia… After being arrested in Karachi in October 2001, at aged 14, he has spent several years in solitary confinement as an alleged al-Qa'ida-trained fighter.
In a May 29, 2008 email to U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, we requested that the tribunal records on these young POWs be opened for public scrutiny, because most American people were not aware that we were holding children in harsh prison detention.
On September 26, 2008, BASG brought the matter to the attention of Magnus Bergmar, Executive Director. Children’s World in Mariefred, Sweden, due to a lack of media coverage in the United States. (See excerpts below)
As the United States of America prepares to choose the next President, I am fearful the next administration and the rest of the world will forget about the underage captives taken in the combat zone and branded as “terrorist”. Some of these children were only 14 and 15 years old when detained by the U.S. military.
In the past, we written to you and kept you abreast of their plight. Now one of the government tribunal prosecutors has quit and is ready to testify that the rights of one of these children were violated.
These children were taken into custody, originally denied representation and parental visits. They were held incommunicado in isolated areas and tortured.
Now a former U.S. military prosecutor at Guantanamo who accuses his superiors of suppressing evidence refused Thursday to testify in a war crimes case unless he is granted immunity… Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who was called as a defense witness, revealed a day earlier that he quit over what he called ethical lapses by prosecutors.
In another case brought before the federal courts in October 2008, BASG reported:
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the Bush administration Tuesday to immediately free 17 Chinese Muslims from Guantanamo Bay into the United States... Over the objections of government lawyers, Urbina ordered their release in Washington D.C. by Friday.
“Because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful… I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for the detention,” Urbina said.
We are pleased to see the new U.S. administration plans to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, as articulated by Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder. But what will become of these children captured in the war zone is another question.