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Kuwait : Ongoing persecution of former Guantanamo detainees

Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari, 37 and a Kuwaiti citizen married with two children, is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. He was repatriated to Kuwait on 3 November 2005, after which he was put on trial, acquitted by the Kuwaiti Criminal Court, and released in 2006.

However, Mr Al-Shammari is suffering ongoing persecution from the Kuwaiti authorities since his return home to Kuwait. As a result, Alkarama submitted Mr Al-Shammari's case, on 25 November 2010, to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, requesting his intervention with the Kuwaiti authorities, in an effort to refrain Mr Al-Shammari's persecution.  

After a year's detention in Guantanamo Bay, Mr Al-Shammari was tried in the American military court in Guantanamo, which acquitted him of all charges and ordered that he be returned to his country. He returned to Kuwait in 2005, where he was again tried before the Criminal Court which also acquitted him of charges in regards to his alleged membership to Al-Qaeda. He was released in 2006.

However, Mr Al-Shammari was again arrested from his home in the evening of 6 July 2009 by a group of armed men dressed in civilian clothing and driving black cars. He was taken to the headquarters of State Security to the south of the Surra region of Kuwait. At the time of arrest, no warrant was presented, nor were any reasons given. He was only told that he was ‘wanted by State Security'.

Mr Al-Shammari was initially detained incommunicado for 11 days (until 17 July 2009) in the State Security Building, during which time he was prevented from contacting his family and lawyer. He was detained in solitary confinement during this time, and suffered torture by electricity during interrogations which were carried out while he was being blindfolded and handcuffed. Mr Al-Shammari was also beaten and subjected to psychological pressure and humiliation. He was threatened to be re-arrested for another crime if he was not charged by judge this time.

Upon his transfer to the Central Prison in the region of Al-Solaybia, Mr Al-Shammari was again detained in solitary confinement for two months (until mid-September 2009) in the high security section of the prison, and at other intervals during his detention. While there, Mr Al-Shammari was tortured, and suffered psychological pressure. He was also prevented from having contact with his family during his detention.

Mr Al-Shammari was accused again, before the Kuwaiti Criminal Court, of belonging to Al-Qaeda and financing terrorist groups. He was told by his interrogators that a detainee had confessed that Mr Al-Shammari gave him 3000 Kuwaiti dinars (approximately 11,000 USD), but we submit this charge was fabricated. At the time when he was supposed to be financing terrorist activities, Mr Al-Shammari was jobless and living very precariously with government assistance. In addition, Mr Al-Shammari's lawyer wasn't allowed to attend interrogation sessions held by State Security and the Prosecution.

Once again, the Kuwaiti Criminal Court found him innocent and acquitted him of all charges. He was subsequently released on 6 December 2009. However, to date, the Kuwaiti authorities have continued to harass him by continually sending him summonses for questioning. He is also banned from leaving the country, in violation of article 12 of ICCPR. Furthermore, he is subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home and correspondence, in violation of article 17 of ICCPR.

Alkarama calls for the Kuwaiti authorities to immediately remember their national and international obligations to refrain from all forms of persecution towards Mr Al-Shammari.

For more information or an interview, please contact media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).