NUI Galway and Amnesty mark International Day Against Torture

Monday, 19 June 2006

Guest speaker to include brother of Guantanamo detainee

To mark International Day Against Torture, Amnesty International and The Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, will host a panel discussion on Torture in the Age of Terror, on 28 June in Galway City Library.

The discussion will feature two speakers, Abubaker Deghayes, the brother of a Guantanamo detainee, and Elvira Dominguez Redondo, an IRCHSS (Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences) fellow with the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway.

Abubaker Deghayes is the brother of Omar Deghayes whose family is convinced that he is being held in Guantanamo Bay because of mistaken identity. The brothers fled Libya in 1987 and were granted political asylum in the UK. While in Pakistan in 2002, Omar was caught as an 'enemy combatant' and was eventually transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

Throughout his capture Omar has reported to his lawyer that he has been subjected to many forms of torture. In Guantanamo Bay, where he continues to be held, he has been kept in solitary confinement for over eight months, strip searched and reportedly attacked by a guard leaving him blind in one eye.

Joining Abubaker on the panel will be Dr. Elvira Dominguez Redondo, IRCHSS fellow with NUI Galway's Irish Centre for Human Rights, who previously worked as a consultant with the Special Rapporteur on Torture at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva.

According to Dr. Dominquez Redondo, "It has been suggested that the 'war on terror' has altered many fundamental norms of International Law, including the absolute prohibition of the use of torture. However, a distinction needs to be made between law breakers and norm makers. The 28 June, International Day Against Torture, should be marked in everyone's mind to reiterate the absolute nature of the norm prohibiting the use of torture and its misuse in activities such as renditions flights or Guantanamo Bay detainees."

The public discussion is open to all and will take place on Wednesday 28 June, 8pm, Galway City Library, St Augustine Street, Galway. Entry: Free

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For further information: Amnesty International, 2-3 Middle Street, Galway 091 533 637, www.amnesty.ie Further background on Abubaker and Omar Deghayes Abubaker Deghayes is the brother of Guatanamo detainee Omar Deghayes. Abubaker, like his brother Omar, fled Libya in 1987 following the assassination of their father (trade union leader and political opponent of Colonel al-Gadaffi) by the Libyan secret police.

Both brothers were granted political asylum in the UK and Omar Deghayes went to study law. In 2001 Omar Deghayes travelled to Malaysia, Pakistan and eventually Afghanistan, where he married and had a son. When the international conflict started in Afghanistan after Sept 11 2001 Omar fled to Pakistan with his wife and baby. They were planning to return to the UK when they were arrested in Lahore, Pakistan in April 2002, for a reported bounty of $5,000. Omar was caught as an 'enemy combatant' and was eventually transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Sept. 2002.

Throughout his capture Omar has reported to his lawyer that he has been subjected to many forms of torture. In Pakistan he was subjected to 'systematic beatings' and stress positions, in Afghanistan 'forced nudity,' 'food deprivation' and being deprived of air for long periods of time. In Guantanamo Bay, where he continues to be held, he has been kept in solitary confinement for over eight months, strip searched and reported to have been attacked by a guard which has left him blind in one eye.

Omar's family is convinced that he is being held in Guantanamo Bay because of a mistaken identity. Omar's situation is worsened by his citizenship status, he has refugee status in the UK and if released from Guantanamo Bay, the US authorities could return him to Libya, where he could be at risk of further torture.

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