NGOs back French judge’s decision to summon Guantanamo chief

Two non-profit legal advocacy organisations endorse French judge’s decision to summon former Guantanamo Bay prison chief Geoffrey Miller

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Former Guantanamo prison chief Geoffrey Miller, seen here on May 5, 2004, has been summoned by a French court over accusations of torture by two ex-detainees.

Two non-profit legal advocacy organisations on Friday endorsed a French judge’s decision to summon former US Guantanamo Bay prison chief in a torture probe.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) earlier submitted expert reports to assist in the proceedings that eventually cleared the way for alleged Guantanamo Bay torture victims to subpoena for retired US Army Major General Geoffrey Miller.

Both organisations accuse Miller of individual criminal responsibility for prisoner abuse in Guantanamo that amounts to torture under international law.

A French Judge on Thursday summoned Miller to appear in court on March 1 over allegations of torture by the lawyers of two Guantanamo Bay detainees.

After their repatriation to France from the controversial prison, former Guantanamo detainees Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi filed a criminal complaint against former Guantanamo prison chief Geoffrey Miller.

They were held there from the end of 2001 until 2004 and 2005 respectively.

In an expert report submitted to a French judge in 2014, lawyers for Sassi and Benchellali accused Miller of "an authorised and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee."

Miller was commander of the prison from 2002 to 2004.

Just before Miller became commander of Guantanamo in late 2002, then US president George W. Bush's administration approved so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including placing detainees in stress positions, stripping them, isolating them for extended periods of time and exposing them to extreme heat and cold.

Miller then implemented these methods.

And even though then-secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld withdrew permission for the most controversial of these interrogation techniques shortly thereafter in January 2003, "under ... Miller's command at Guantanamo, these techniques continued to be used in certain cases," the detainees' lawyers said in 2014.

During his presidential campaign and throughout his term in office, US President Barack Obama has vowed several times to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, which once held almost 800 detainees.

The administration has increased efforts toward that end, transferring Guantanamo detainees to their home countries or to third countries.

There are currently 91 detainees left in the Guantanamo Bay prison.

TRTWorld and agencies