January 11, 2008 marks the 6th ‘anniversary’ of the first transfers of ‘war on terror’ detainees to the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. For this reason, Amnesty International’s Swiss section and 10 reputed US citizens living in Switzerland call on Americans abroad to speak out against illegal detentions in the “war on terror”.

The United States and Switzerland share a long tradition of common values particularly freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The United States also used to be a driving force behind the establishment of international humanitarian and human rights law.

In the past six years, however, many Swiss and American citizens have become more and more concerned about the betrayal of these fundamental principles in the US government’s fight against terrorism. «Special interrogation techniques» that amount to torture, the abduction and indefinite detention of hundreds of terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay and at secret CIA detention sites without the detainees being formally accused and brought to court for many years have seriously undermined the United States’ reputation as a champion of justice and human rights.

Amnesty International maintains that the fundamental values of our societies cannot be suspended during the fight against terrorism: On the one hand, torture breeds hate and lays the ground for future terrorism. On the other hand, the recent sentences passed by an ordinary Spanish court on the persons responsible for the 2004 bombings in Madrid prove that the rule of law can counter terrorism effectively without sacrificing fundamental human rights principles.

A country’s institutions are primarily accountable to its own citizens. Together with 10 reputed US residents in Switzerland Amnesty International therefore calls on US citizens abroad to protest against abuses in the so-called «war on terror», in order to bring US counterterrorism policies back in line with the rule of law and human rights. Amnesty’s Framework contains the main guidelines to be followed for countering terrorism with justice.

Amnesty International and the 10 American ‘co-sponsors’ of the appeal request you to put your name to this framework and thereby contribute to pressuring the US authorities to cease the practice of illegal detentions in the «war on terror»:


 → Download the “Framework against illegal detention” on www.amnesty.ch/en   
Sign it and send it to your elected representatives in congress and/or the chairs of key committees.  

Thank you for your dedication to a world where extraordinary rendition and torture have no place!  

Facts & Figures on illegal US detentions  

  © US DoD 

11 January 2008 marks 6 years since the first detainees were transferred to Guantánamo.

  Nearly 800 detainees have been held in Guantánamo.

  Approximately 300 detainees of around 30 nationalities were still held without charge or trial in November 2007.

Only one Guantánamo detainee has been convicted by military commission. As of November 2007, 3 detainees had been charged for trial by military commission.

Nearly 80 per cent of those detained are believed to be held in isolation in Camp 5, Camp 6 or Camp Echo.

  Camp 6 was built to house 178 detainees. It is the harshest facility. Detainees are confined for a minimum of 22 hours a day in individual steel cells with no windows to the outside.

At least 4 of those still held were under 18 years old when taken into custody.

At least 4 men are reported to have died in Guantánamo as a result of suicide. Dozens more suicide attempts have been reported.

  Detainees have been taken into custody in more than 10 countries before being transferred to Guantánamo without any judicial process.

  An analysis of around 500 of the detainees concluded that only 5 per cent had been captured by US forces; 86 per cent had been arrested by Pakistani or Afghanistan-based Northern Alliance forces and turned over to US custody, often for a reward of thousands of US dollars.

  14 detainees were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006 after they had been held incommunicado in secret CIA custody for up to 4 and a half years; 4 other men have been transferred to Guantánamo since.

  An unknown number of people have been held in secret CIA custody. At least three dozen people believed to have been held in secret remain unaccounted for, their fate and whereabouts unknown.

  Hundreds of people remain detained without charge, trial or judicial review of their detentions at the US air base in Bagram, Afghanistan.  
© Reto Rufer, Amnesty International, Swiss Section