Detention & Guantanamo

Court Denies Preliminary Injunction in GTMO Force-Feeding Case

By Cody M. Poplin
Monday, November 10, 2014, 11:15 AM

On Friday, Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied detainee Abu Wa'el Dhiab's bid for a preliminary injunction against certain Guantanamo force-feeding procedures.

The court's memorandum opinion concludes as follows:

For the reasons stated above, the Court concludes that the Petitioner's Application for a Preliminary Injunction must be denied because he has failed to satisfy the "deliberate indifference" standard of proof. As the Court of Appeals stated in Greater New Orleans Fair Hous. Action Ctr. v. HUD, 639 F.3d 1078 (D.C. Cir. 2011), "when a plantiff has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits, we need no consider the other factions [required for a preliminary injunction].

Having reached this conclusion, the Court feels constrained to make certain comments about the Government's treatment of Mr. Dhiab. It is very hard to understand why the Government refused to give Mr. Dhiab access to a wheelchair and/or crutches that he needed in order to walk to the room for enteral feedings. Had that simple step been taken, numerous painful and humiliating forced cell extractions could have been avoided. While the Government ultimately -- but only a short time before the hearing -- allowed Mr. Dhiab to use the wheelchair, thereby inducing him to comply with the force-feeding as he had agreed to do, common sense and compassion should have dictated a much earlier result. By the same token, the Government refused Mr. Dhiab's request to provide him with an additional mattress. What could more reasonable than providing an additional mattress to a man with back pain so severe that he was given morphine to alleviate it?

Mr. Dhiab is clearly a very sick, depressed, and desperate man. It is hard for those of us in the Continental United States to fully understand his situation and the atmosphere at Guantanamo Bay. He has been cleared for release since 2009 and one can only hope that that release will take place shortly.

You can read the full 20-page opinion here, and find Lawfare's extensive coverage of the hearings here. Carol Rosenberg has more on the trial in the Miami Herald