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USA: Legal concern/Fear of torture/Health concern: Fawaz Naman Hamoud Abdullah Mahdi

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/193/2005
25 November 2005

UA 297/05 Legal concern/Fear of torture/Health concern

USA Fawaz Naman Hamoud Abdullah Mahdi (m), Saudi Arabian national

Saudi Arabian national Fawaz Mahdi, who is held virtually incommunicado at the
US naval base at Guantánamo, is now known to be suffering severe psychological
problems, for which he is not receiving adequate treatment.

A Yemeni national held in Guantánamo, who was recently handed over to the
Yemeni authorities, has told Amnesty International that Fawaz Mahdi is
suffering from severe psychological problems and is regularly subjected to
punishment without any consideration of his mental state. Fawaz Mahdi’s lawyer
has confirmed to Amnesty International that her client has had severe
psychological problems since before he was detained.

Fawaz Mahdi has now been held without charge or trial and virtually
incommunicado with no direct access to independent medical experts or direct
access to his family for nearly four years. He has only recently had access to
a lawyer. Amnesty International is concerned that his mental health is likely
to have deteriorated severely in these conditions, and that he may not be
receiving appropriate medical care. He is also at risk of torture or
ill-treatment at Guantánamo.

Fawaz Mahdi was captured in Afghanistan in 2001. At a hearing before the
Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) he admitted to training to fight US
forces in Afghanistan. According to now-declassified documents, he also
admitted to turning himself in, along with his weapon, to US-aligned Northern
Alliance forces while he was fighting with the forces of the then-ruling
Taliban in Afghanistan.

Before the CSRT hearings began, the CSRT panel itself raised the issue of Fawaz
Mahdi’s mental capacity to participate. The panel determined that he was
mentally capable of participating. Having reviewed two psychiatric
examinations, the panel also found that "While these were persuasive in
advancing the notion that the detainee suffers from a form of mental illness,
they were not persuasive as to whether the detainee had acted as an Enemy
Combatant". The panel also noted that two documents presented as evidence
stated that information offered by the detainee should be considered "highly
unreliable" and that "there may be nuggets of vitally useful information buried
[beneath] the mountain of psychiatric nonsense."

Fawzi Mahdi submitted a statement to the CSRT panel which was read out by his
personal representative. Excerpts from the statement are transcribed in the
decision as follows:

"I Fawaz want you to know he did not know the meaning of Al Quieda…I accused
myself in front of the interrogators of many things to hasten my assumed
execution rather than going to prison…I did not want to fight at all…I was
there because I was told only the Jihad places had magic things inside…But my
friends and the Mullah told me to fight. I tried to pray to the Koran, to
cleanse my soul. I had to fight Jihad as a last resort to cleanse my soul…I was
told I have magic disease…I went to the hospital…I experience some
psychological problems while I was in the hospital."

The CSRT panel determined that Fawaz Mahdi was properly classified as an "enemy
combatant" on the basis of his statement even though they recognized his mental
health problems. The panel determined that he should remain detained at
Guantánamo Bay indefinitely.

Amnesty International has dismissed the CSRT process as beyond any
internationally recognized legal procedures. It is a purely administrative
process which disregards international law. It consists of panels of three
military officers whose sole purpose is to confirm or reject each detainee’s
status as a so-called "enemy combatant". The CSRT process places the burden on
the detainee to disprove his "enemy combatant" status. The detainee does not
have access to legal counsel or to secret evidence. Many detainees have chosen
not to attend the CSRT proceedings against them.

 

      

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