On 17 March 2017, the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva accepted a complaint (individual communication) against Belgium filed by Belgian citizen and former Guantánamo detainee Mosa Zemmouri. The complaint on behalf of Zemmouri had been submitted by ECCHR and its cooperating lawyers in Belgium, Walter van Steenbrugge and Christophe Marchand, on 11 January 2017. Belgium has now two months' time to respond to the complaint.
Zemmouri was detained at the US military base in Guantánamo Bay from 2002 to 2005, where he was subjected to brutal beatings as well as sensory deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and other severe forms of physical and psychological abuse. In their submission to the UN Committee, Zemmouri, the lawyers and ECCHR argue that Belgian officials were complicit in the abuse, that Belgium knew about the torture but failed to prevent it, and that Belgian authorities subsequently failed to carry out adequate investigations into the crimes.
The complaint was filed on the 15th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees to Guantánamo Bay in the early days of the US administration's "war on terror," the beginning of a global system of US military and CIA torture carried out with the complicity of several states in Europe and around the world. The complaint against Belgium is part of broader efforts to uphold the ban on torture by bringing criminal proceedings against perpetrators.