HRW: Ex-Guantanamo Detainee Seriously Ill in Jail (Rasul Kudaev)
- Human Rights Watch (story now 1 month old)
Russia: Ex-Guantanamo Detainee Seriously Ill in Jail
Kudaev's case shows how vulnerable former detainees from Guantanamo
are to abusive treatment back home. As US President-elect Barack
Obama considers how to close Guantanamo Bay, the experience of people
like Rasul Kudaev should be taken into account - and never repeated.
December 2, 2008
(Moscow, December 2, 2008) - The health of a former Guantanamo
detainee has declined alarmingly in a Russian detention facility, and
he should be given immediate access to an independent medical
examination and appropriate treatment, Human Rights Watch said today.
The former Guantanamo detainee, Rasul Kudaev, has been held for more
than three years in pretrial detention in Nalchik, a city in southern
Russia, accused of participating in an October 2005 armed uprising
against the local government. He was severely tortured in custody.
Human Rights Watch urged that Kudaev's lawyer be present during any
"Rasul Kudaev has not been convicted of any crime, but prison
authorities are putting his life at risk by letting his health
collapse," said Carroll Bogert, associate director of Human Rights
Watch. "The Russian government must get him decent medical treatment
Kudaev is one of seven Russian citizens whom the US government sent
back from Guantanamo to Russia in 2004 despite their fears of being
tortured and ill-treated back home. Human Rights Watch detailed their
harassment and mistreatment by Russian authorities in a 2007
report "The Stamp of Guantanamo". It is a violation of the Convention
against Torture, as well as other US and international laws, to
involuntarily return people to a country where they are in danger of
The Nalchik uprising reportedly resulted in more than 140 deaths,
including 35 law enforcement officers, 15 bystanders, and at least 92
of those involved. According to photographs, medical records, court
documents, and the testimony of lawyers and family members, Kudaev
was repeatedly beaten in custody in an effort to compel him to
confess to involvement in the uprising.
Kudaev began to suffer liver problems while in detention at
Guantanamo Bay and was receiving outpatient treatment for liver
disease in October 2005 when the Nalchik uprising occurred. His
mother told Human Rights Watch that although she brought him
medication, he has not regularly received it. In May, Kudaev's
condition worsened and his lawyer petitioned for a medical exam and
treatment. Prison authorities issued medical conclusions stating that
Kudaev was healthy, but began treating Kudaev without informing his
lawyer. The treatment stopped at the end of June.
Kudaev's condition has deteriorated markedly over the last several
weeks. Kudaev's mother and his lawyer told Human Rights Watch that
Kudaev is currently suffering liver failure exacerbated by poor
conditions, including inedible food, in detention. The skin on the
right side of his back has hardened, the whites of his eyes are deep
yellow, and he has trouble walking due to pain. In mid-November,
Kudaev and his lawyer requested a medical examination. Prison
authorities agreed to the exam but refused to allow it to be
conducted by an independent doctor. They pledged to release all the
medical records and photos taken during the medical examination, yet
they barred Kudaev's lawyer from being present at his client's
medical exam. The exam has not yet been scheduled.
One of the defendants in the Nalchik case, Valeri Bolov, died in
February 2008 of cirrhosis of the liver, which was never treated in
prison. He was released to his relatives from pretrial detention when
he was already dying.
The detention facility authorities should immediately improve
detention conditions for Kudaev, ensuring that he receives urgent
medical assistance and has unrestricted access to legal counsel,
Human Rights Watch said.
"Kudaev's case shows how vulnerable former detainees from Guantanamo
are to abusive treatment back home," said Bogert. "As US President-
elect Barack Obama considers how to close Guantanamo Bay, the
experience of people like Rasul Kudaev should be taken into account -
and never repeated."