IJN filed the first cases on behalf of men imprisoned in the US Military's treacherous Bagram prison in Afghanistan. For the next nine years, IJN worked tirelessly to convince US courts that detainees indefinitely detained at Bagram - without charge, trial, access to legal counsel, or any meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention - were entitled to judicial review in US courts. Since Bagram's closure, we have continued to advocate for the release of our clients who remain imprisoned in Afghanistan.
In 2006, IJN filed the first case in US federal court on behalf of a detainee being held at the US Military's infamous prison on Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Over the next several years, IJN filed legal challenges on behalf of dozens of Bagram detainees, arguing that they had the right to challenge their detention in US federal court. Detainees at Bagram were not only being indefinitely detained without charge or trial, but were denied access to legal counsel and were not afforded any meaningful opportunity to challenge their imprisonment.
IJN argued that the US Government's treatment of Bagram detainees was unlawful under US and Constitutional law, and urged US federal courts to require the US Government to justify the detention of these prisoners before a fair and impartial court of law. Many of the Bagram detainees IJN has represented are also victims of extraordinary rendition, secret detention at black sites, and torture. This made it especially important that they had access to judicial review.
However, US federal courts consistently ruled that, unlike their ability to hear the cases of Guantanamo detainees, the courts had no jurisdiction to hear the cases of Bagram detainees, leaving the men imprisoned there without any legal recourse. The US Military closed Bagram prison in December 2014. Not a single Bagram detainee was permitted to have his case heard in US federal court, including those who had been imprisoned there for over a decade without charge.
Preventing Future Torture
In addition to litigation, IJN also aggressively pursued non-litigation advocacy on behalf of Bagram detainees, and continues to do so for those detainees who were transferred to Afghan custody upon the closure of Bagram. IJN works closely with detention facility personnel and international organizations to identify any non-refoulement concerns the detainees may have. The principle of non-refoulement prohibits governments from transferring individuals in their custody to a country in which the individual is likely to be tortured or otherwise persecuted. IJN ensures that the detaining government is aware of these concerns, and provides government reports, human rights reports, and other credible information that confirms the legitimacy of the detainee's non-refoulement concerns. IJN does everything in its power to ensure that detainees are not transferred against their will to countries that engage in torture and other human rights violations. IJN also pursues the repatriation of detainees who wish to return to their home countries.