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Forcibly transferred to Algeria on December 5, 2013
*Photo credits: Center for Constitutional Rights
ISN 310: Djamel Ameziane's Decade in Guantanamo
***On December 5, 2013, the U.S. transferred Mr. Ameziane to Algeria against his will despite his well-founded fear of persecution in his home country.***
Djamel Ameziane is an Algerian refugee who has been detained in Guantánamo Bay since 2002. He has a pending habeas corpus petition, Ameziane v. Obama, in the D.C. District Court. He has a petition and request for precautionary measures, Ameziane v. United States, filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Like many other habeas petitions, Mr. Ameziane’s habeas case was stayed pending the outcome of the Boumediene and Al Odah cases in the Supreme Court, which were decided June 12, 2008. The Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantánamo Bay have the constitutional right to have their habeas corpus petitions heard in a U.S. federal court. Subsequently, the stay in Mr. Ameziane’s habeas case was lifted and the case began to move forward rapidly. However, in June 2009, the D.C. District Court again stayed the case indefinitely based on his approval for transfer.
Mr. Ameziane’s IACHR petition and request for precautionary measures is the first merits petition by a person detained by the United States at Guantánamo Bay, asking the IACHR to consider the torture, abuse, and other human rights violations perpetrated against him, including his continuing indefinite detention without charge or trial.
Artwork created by Mr. Ameziane while imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Mr. Ameziane’s habeas corpus petition is currently stayed indefinitely in the D.C. District Court; Mr. Ameziane’s IACHR petition is currently pending.
On December 5, 2013, the U.S. transferred Mr. Ameziane from Guantanamo to Algeria against his will despite his well-founded fear of persecution in his home country, and without giving him the opportunity to have the court evaluate his fear of return. Mr. Ameziane’s forced transfer to Algeria violates international law, including the Convention Against Torture.
Ameziane v. Obama is a petition for habeas corpus filed on behalf of Djamel Ameziane. Respondents in the case include the President, the Secretary of Defense, and military commanders of the Joint Task Force – Guantanamo. Ameziane v. United States, is a petition to consider the torture, abuse, and other human rights violations perpetrated against him at Guantánamo Bay including his continuing indefinite detention without charge or trial, and requests that the IACHR issue precautionary measures requiring the United States to honor its non-refoulement obligations and cease all mistreatment of Mr. Ameziane.
Mr. Ameziane is an ethnic Berber from Algeria, where he obtained a college diploma and held a respectable job. In the early 1990s Mr. Ameziane left Algeria to escape escalating instability and oppression under the Algerian government then in power. He lived and worked legally as a chef in a high-class restaurant in Vienna, Austria. Following the 1995 election of a new government in Austria, Mr. Ameziane’s visa and work permit were not renewed and he was forced to leave the country. He then traveled to Canada where he sought asylum. However, after five years in Canada his application was denied and he was forced to uproot again. With few options left, Mr. Ameziane went to live in Afghanistan. He never participated in any military training or fighting. Soon after the war started, he fled to escape the violence, but was abducted by local police while trying to cross the border into Pakistan and was sold to U.S. forces for a bounty. In early February 2002, Mr. Ameziane was sent to Guantánamo, where he has suffered immensely from abuse and solitary confinement.
The U.S. government has never alleged that Mr. Ameziane has engaged in hostilities, terrorism, or any acts of violence and it has since conceded that there were no “military rationales” for Mr. Ameziane’s continued detention. A refugee held in Guantánamo Bay, Mr. Ameziane sought asylum in a safe third country where he would begin to rebuild his life.
On December 5, 2013, the U.S. government forcibly repatriated Mr. Ameziane to Algeria.
Arist Dan Minkler's "Chef Djamel" poster for Berkeley No More Guantanamos
On April 19, 2007, the government filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Ameziane's habeas case.
On May 3, 2007, Mr. Ameziane opposed the government's motion to dismiss.
On July 5, 2007, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle denied without prejudice the government''s motion to dismiss pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush, and Al Odah v. United States.
On January 3, 2008, the D.C. District Court stayed Mr. Ameziane's habeas case.
On June 12, 2008, the Supreme Court decided Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. Bush, ruling that detainees at Guantánamo Bay have the constitutional right to petition for habeas corpus relief.
On June 13, 2008, Mr. Ameziane filed a motion to lift the stay of his habeas case and schedule an immediate status conference.
On July 29, 2008, Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, acting as coordinating judge for most detainee cases, ordered that the stay be lifted in Mr. Ameziane's habeas case, and most other habeas cases filed by detainees at Guantánamo Bay.
On December 2, 2008, Judge Huvelle, the merits judge assigned to Mr. Ameziane’s habeas case, ordered the government to produce exculpatory evidence, and directed the parties to engage in other discovery.
On December 17, 2008, the government filed a sealed motion to stay Mr. Ameziane’s habeas case.
On December 19, 2008, Judge Huvelle entered an amended order regarding production of exculpatory evidence and other discovery. The court also scheduled motion for summary judgment proceedings.
Also on December 19, 2008, Mr. Ameziane filed a sealed opposition to the government’s motion to stay and, alternatively, a cross-motion for parole.
As reflected on the public docket, on January 2, 2009, Judge Huvelle denied the motion to stay Mr. Ameziane’s habeas case.
On February 6, 2009, Mr. Ameziane filed under seal a motion to exclude evidence. In response, on February 20, 2009, the government filed a public notice withdrawing reliance on two documents as a basis for Mr. Ameziane’s detention.
On February 13, 2009, Mr. Ameziane filed a preliminary traverse and motion for summary judgment before the D.C. District Court.
On February 20, 2009, the government filed a pleading attempting to avoid summary judgment proceedings as to Mr. Ameziane.
Also as reflected on the public docket, the parties thereafter filed a series of sealed pleadings, and the court issued a series of sealed orders.
On February 27, 2010, Mr. Ameziane and other petitioners in the six habeas cases filed an emergency motion for reconsideration or, alternatively, for a stay pending appeal. On March 15, 2010, the government opposed. Petitioners replied on March 17, 2010.