Belgium: UN Committee against Torture accepts complaint by former Guantánamo detainee against his home country
On 17 March 2017 the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva accepted a complaint (individual communication) against Belgium filed by Belgian citizen and former Guantanamo 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.other severe forms of physical and psychological abuse.
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.
Belgium failed to prevent the torture of its citizen in Guantánamo
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.
Spotlight on impunity as world marks 15 years of detention at Guantánamo
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.
“To date none of the architects of the post-9/11 torture system – the senior military and political figures responsible – have faced prosecution in any jurisdiction”, said Andreas Schüller of ECCHR’s International Crimes and Accountability Program. “We will continue to work until they are held accountable, whether at home or abroad.”
Criminal Proceedings against the "architects" of the post 9/11 torture system
Today’s complaint against Belgium is part of broader efforts to uphold the ban on torture by bringing criminal proceedings against perpetrators. In France, ECCHR and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) are involved in the ongoing investigations by Paris authorities into the torture of two French citizens at Guantánamo.