Why Guantánamo detainees are forced to refuse a visit from their Reprieve lawyer

Image of visiting room in Guantanamo

This week, two of our clients, Samir Moqbel and Ahmed Rabbani, chose not to meet their Reprieve attorneys at Guantánamo because they did not want to submit to humiliating and unnecessary genital searches by the guards.

The invasive searches were stopped after legal action was launched in the US. But the guards have now resumed their searching policy. It is feared that that this is a deliberate attempt to prevent lawyer-client meetings.

“The judge said they could not do that [genital searches]. So they started to do it again on Friday.”

Shaker Aamer in a call with his Reprieve attorney

Staff at Guantánamo told Reprieve attorney Cori Crider during her recent visit, that Samir Moqbel, who like Shaker has been cleared for release, refused their meeting because he didn’t want to submit to the genital search.

“After fourteen years of indignity, it’s no surprise that many of my clients aren’t willing to put themselves through the further humiliation of being pointlessly groped by guard staff. This whole policy is plainly an effort to stop Gitmo prisoners meeting their lawyers. For months these men were searched normally and brought to sit with counsel without incident. Yet for no discernible reason the authorities have changed protocol and resumed grabbing my clients’ genitals – it’s degrading, it’s needless, and it unlawfully interferes with these people’s right to consult an attorney.”

Cori Crider, Reprieve director and attorney for a number of Guantánamo prisoners

According to Guantánamo guards, the search involves invasive searches of the prisoner’s groin “by placing the guard’s hand as a wedge between the [detainee’s] scrotum and thigh . . . and using [a] flat hand to press against the groin to detect anything foreign attached to the body,” after which a guard “uses a flat hand to frisk the detainee’s buttocks to ensure no contraband is hidden there.”

In 2013, during the height of a mass hunger strike at Guantánamo, the genital searches were the subject of legal action in US federal court, and were eventually stopped by camp authorities. A judge who ordered the searches should be stopped wrote:

“the choice between submitting to a search procedure that is religiously and culturally abhorrent or forgoing counsel effectively presents no choice for devout Muslims like petitioners.”

His eyes lit up, and he smiled

This week, Reprieve Director Cori Crider visited Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo for what will hopefully be the last time.

She sent back this video

Read more about Shakers release from Guantánamo