Sweden’s complicity in the world-wide detention of Monir Awad

Guantanamo Bay was only the beginning. It was the first visible prison in the War on Terror which came to the world’s attention. Its legality was immediately dubious to those versed in international human rights law. Its abuses became infamous; however it was only the beginning. Soon afterwards the existence of similar sights in Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Kandahar came to the world’s attention. What has become apparent since 2001 in the past eight years is that there is an entire worldwide network of prisons outside the realm of normal legal systems, which operate outside any legal jurisdictions, and with near impunity. The exact nature of the specific sites which make up this network vary from those best known such as the facility at Guantanamo bay to CIA black sites, whose inmates are nearly never known to those attempting to hold the authorities running these facilities to account.

The case of Monir Awad, a Swedish citizen of joint Palestinian and Lebanese decent, is an extremely interesting case study of the global detention network in the War on Terror which has come into existence since 2001. His case individually highlights nearly every aspect of this network and the specificities of its various permutations. These specificities include everything from detention without charge and the failure to produce any prima facie case for it, profiling, rendition, refoulement, abuse and torture whilst in detention, proxy prisons, the complicity of foreign security services in these detentions and lastly attempts to force links in interrogation between prisoners and Al-Qaeda. The case of Monir Awad highlights all these points, and how this system is beyond the law, operates with impunity, and with either the knowledge or at the behest of western governments and most importantly the injustice and human rights abuses it perpetrates.

Monir Awad has now been detained twice in the past four years. His first detention in 2006 occurred when he accidentally found himself in the conflict zone of Somalia when Ethiopian forces invaded in December 2006. He was visiting there from the UAE for a short stay, evaluating whether it would be suitable for him and his pregnant wife (who was travelling with him) to settle. It was at this point that war broke out and in attempting to escape to Kenya, as the Swedish authorities advised, they were captured by Kenyan forces and their first experience of detention, rendition and abusive interrogations began.

After some time in Sweden and being reminded why they had originally decided that they should emigrate to a different part of the world, Monir and his partner along with their friend Mehdi Ghezali, a former Guantanamo prisoner, who shared their opinion of the intolerance of Swedish society again decided to try and find a place for themselves somewhere they would be comfortable settling. This time they decided also to couple this with a tour of the Muslim world to take in sites to see their heritage.

The interview conducted by Cageprisoners in Sweden with Monir Awad in October 2009 is the source for the information presented here. Our conclusions reached in this report have all been corroborated many times by various sources since the beginning of the “War on Terror”.

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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)