Guantánamo Detention Center

The U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch continue to wrestle with questions about the appropriate laws and policies to address the treatment and status of detainees who have been held at the U.S. military installation at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Throughout the years, the Human Rights Center has published several studies and commentaries on the effects Guantánamo Bay on detainees.

Guantánamo and Its Aftermath

The first study, Guantánamo and Its Aftermath: U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices and Their Impact on Former Detainees, was a collaborative report with the International Human Rights Law Clinic at Berkeley Law and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. The report presented findings from a two-year study of detainees and—as one of the only systematic studies of Guantánamo detainees once they have left U.S. custody—some of the only rigorous empirical data regarding this prisoner population. Through research and interviews with former detainees and key informants, the study explored the impact of detention on detainees, families, and communities, and recommended appropriate legal mechanisms, detention practices, and polices to protect the human rights of detainees taken into U.S. custody during its pursuit of the “war on terror.”

The report was released on November 12, 2008, at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Read the press release or download the full report (also available in Arabic and Pashto).

In 2009, the report was reprinted through UC Press as The Guantánamo Effect: Exposing the Consequences of U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices.

Eric Stover and Laurel Fletcher, the lead of authors of the book, were joined by Stephen Smith, Alexa Koenig, Zukaikha Aziz, Alexis Kelly, Sarah Staveteig, and Nobuko Mizoguchi.

Resettlement and Reintegration

Following the report, students at Berkeley Law’s International Human Rights Law Clinic prepared a policy paper with recommendations regarding reintegration of former detainees. The March 2009 report is titled Returning Home: Resettlement and Reintegration of Detainees Released from the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Their work was covered by Berkeley Law’s news in “International Human Rights Law Clinic Students Brief Policymakers on Guantánamo.”

Coalition-Building and Advocacy

In April 2009, the Human Rights Center joined a coalition of 18 other human rights, faith-based, and justice organizations in calling on the Obama administration to establish a commission on accountability to investigate torture sanctioned by the Bush administration.

In 2014, the Human Rights Center, the International Human Rights Law Clinic, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, submitted a shadow report to the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva.

Extreme Punishment

In 2015, Alexa Koenig co-edited (with Keramet Retier) Extreme Punishment: Comparative Studies in Detention and Solitary Confinement through Palgrave Macmillan’s Studies in Prisons and Penology series, which included “From Man to Beast: Social Death at Guantánamo,” by Koenig.

Related Publications

K. Alexa Koenig, Eric Stover, and Laurel E. Fletcher. “The Cumulative Effect: A Medico-Legal Approach to United States Torture Law and Policy.” Essex Human Rights Review6, no. 1 (December 2009): 203–34.

Alexa Koenig and Eric Stover. “When I Returned Home, It Was Another Hell’: Now’s the Time to  Talk about What We Do After Guantánamo.” Salon, February 25, 2016.

Laurel E. Fletcher and Eric Stover. “A Commitment to Justice Means More than Just Closing Gitmo.” San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2015.

Alexa Koenig. “The Breaking of Bodies and Minds: Task Force Report Confirms Complicity of U.S. Medical Personnel in Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment.” Huffington Post, November 7, 2013. Reprinted from the Berkeley Blog, November 4, 2013.

Alexa Koenig. “Department of Justice ‘White Paper’ Full of Contradictions.” U.S. News & World Report, February 6, 2013.

Laurel Fletcher and Eric Stover. “Guantanamo Haunts Released Detainees.” Los Angeles Times, June 11, 2009.

Laurel E. Fletcher and Eric Stover. “Closing Gitmo Is Not Enough.” International Herald Tribune, November 21, 2008.