“Inhumane treatment” of Guantanamo detainees according to a United Nations report

Almost constant surveillance, limited access to families, isolation: the treatment of the last 30 Guantanamo detainees is “cruel, inhuman and degrading”a United Nations expert denounced on Monday 26 June after the first visit of its kind to the American military prison.

After two decades of unsuccessful requests by independent UN human rights experts, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the fight against terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, was finally authorized to make this visit in February.

Its report released on Monday describes, despite “significant improvements” from the detention center, “almost constant surveillance, forced extractions from cells, excessive use of means of restraint”, “Structural health deficiencies, inadequate access to families” AND “arbitrary detentions characterized by continued violations of the right to a fair trial”.

“The sum total of all these practices and neglects (…) have significant cumulative aggravating effects on the dignity, freedoms and fundamental rights of each prisoner, and this amounts, in my view, to ongoing cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, under international law”he said at a press conference.

“The closure of this plant remains a priority”he added, welcoming “US openness and willingness to lead by example” allowing this visit.

Independent human rights experts from the United Nations have been calling for access to this military prison in southeast Cuba since it opened in 2002 to inmates of the “War on Terror” led by the United States after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

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Having become a thorn in Washington’s side, accused of illegal detention, human rights abuses and torture, the prison numbered up to nearly 800 “prisoners of war”most incarcerated despite flimsy evidence of their involvement.

The United States expresses its disagreement with the report

In a letter accompanying the report, the United States had its say “disagreement” with “many claims” of a document which “does not reflect the official position of the United Nations”ensuring in particular that detainees receive medical care and can communicate regularly with their families.

Activists demonstrate in front of the Capitol in Washington to demand the closure of the Guantanamo prison, April 5, 2023.

“We have granted the Special Rapporteur unprecedented access”although “confident that the conditions of detention at Guantanomo are humane”wrote Human Rights Council Ambassador Michèle Taylor, noting that the Biden administration “actively work to find suitable places for the remaining detainees who are transferable”.

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Fionnuala Ní Aoláin also focused on the aftermath of the victims of 9/11, noting that there was still much to be done to respect their “right to compensation”.

Your report underlines that the practice of torture, Hon “black sites” (illegal American prisons) then to Guantanamo “represents the main obstacle to the victims’ right to justice”. “Torture was a betrayal of victims’ rights”.

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“The US government must ensure accountability for all of its violations of international law, whether they are victims of its counterterrorism practices, current and past detainees, or victims of terrorism.”insisted the expert.

“I stress the importance of apologies, full support, reparations and non-repeat guarantees, for all victims”he said again. “And these guarantees will be no less pressing in the years to come”.

The world with AFP