2023 | UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Abu Zubaydah v. the United States, Thailand, Poland, Morocco, Lithuania, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has reached a groundbreaking decision in the case of Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. United States of America, Thailand, Poland, Morocco, Lithuania, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom. The UNWGAD decision finds that Mr. Zubaydah's detention has no lawful basis, and the US should immediately release him and provide reparation.
The UNWGAD also expresses ‘grave concern’ about detention at Guantanamo Bay and notes that systematic deprivation of liberty may ‘constitute crimes against humanity.’ The UNWGAD further expresses that the US should prioritise closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.

The recently released decision of the UNWGAD is unprecedented in several ways, especially because it is the first international decision concerning the notorious torture and ongoing arbitrary detention of ‘forever prisoner’ Abu Zubaydah to be issued against the United States (US). Furthermore, it is the first international case finding against the U.K., Morocco, Thailand and Afghanistan for their roles in rendition, torture and arbitrary detention, and it is also the first case against multiple states for their contributions to rendition torture and detention at Guantanamo. Seven states have been found “jointly responsible” for the many ongoing violations of Abu Zubaydah’s rights established in the decision.

The UN Working Group explicitly calls for Abu Zubaydah's release, rehabilitation and compensation, the closure of Guantanamo and the investigation of what it notably terms "crimes against humanity" at Guantanamo.

To view the full press release following the UNWGAD decision, click here.

To read the full decision by UNWGAD, click here.