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College of Law News

International Human Rights clinic files 2nd Guantanamo lawsuit

Willamette’s International Human Rights clinic has filed its second lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. federal court in the Western District of Washington, alleges government officials subjected Mammar Ameur to torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and prolonged unlawful detention for more than six years.

Ameur was a civilian, humanitarian aid worker, and UNHCR-mandate refugee from Algeria who was living with his wife and children in Pakistan when he was unlawfully taken from his home in July 2002 during a raid that was meant to take his neighbor into custody, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit further states that, although the Pakistani forces told an American official who was with them that they did not need or want Ameur, the American official told the Pakistanis to take him into custody simply because he was an Algerian living in Pakistan.

Ameur was put in a Pakistani prison and eventually transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he continued to be illegally detained, the lawsuit alleges. While at Guantanamo Bay, U.S. officials allegedly subjected him to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

The lawsuit says Ameur had been cleared by the Administrative Review Board at Guantanamo Bay to return to Algeria in November 2005, but U.S. officials continued to hold him unlawfully for another three years. Only when a federal district court in Washington, D.C. ordered the officials to explain their actions was Ameur sent back to Algeria, the lawsuit says.

“What these U.S. officials did to Mr. Ameur and others like him is unconscionable and should outrage every single American who believes in the ideals this country stands for,” Skinner said. “What happened to Mr. Ameur and numerous others like him demonstrates the need for adequate due process procedures and complying with the rule of law. Mr. Ameur and others like him deserve an apology, compensation, and justice.”

The clinic filed a similar lawsuit last year on behalf of Adel Hamad of Sudan, alleging he was unlawfully seized from his apartment and illegally detained for more than five years at Guantanamo Bay.

Kerry Tymchuk BA’81, JD’84 named director of Oregon Historical Society

Kerry Tymchuk, a history major at Willamette with an extensive resume in Oregon politics, has been named executive director of the premier repository for the state’s history.

Tymchuk had served as interim director since April. He was an aide to former U.S. Sens. Gordon Smith and Bob Dole and co-authored books with Dole and his wife, Elizabeth. He also co-wrote “One Tough Mother,” the autobiography of Columbia Sportswear CEO Gert Boyle.

“Kerry Tymchuk has achieved several notable goals,” said OHS board President Jerry Hudson, a former president of Willamette University. “His masterful facilitation has renewed public support for OHS and his ability to nurture relationships and spread enthusiasm for history is truly remarkable.”

The Oregon Historical Society, located in downtown Portland, archives key artifacts in Oregon history such as Meriwether Lewis’s branding iron and a pair of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s iconic blue jeans. Tymchuk, who said he has a lifelong love of history, has visited every county in Oregon. He wants OHS to reach out to all corners of the state, establish a firm financial footing after years of money difficulties and keep up the quality of the society’s research capabilities.

“The best definition of history is it’s who we are and the way we are,” he said. “You have to make the case every day that the state would be very much the poorer if there wasn’t an Oregon Historical Society.”