• Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
  • Last Update : 08:54 am

UN experts: Disgraceful Guantánamo Bay detention facility must be closed now

  • Published at 04:03 am January 12th, 2021
Guantanamo Bay detention centre
File photo: Chain link fence and concertina wire surrounds a deserted guard tower within Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Camp Delta at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba March 21, 2016 Reuters

40 detainees still remain in the detention centre in Cuba, but only nine of them have been charged with or convicted of crimes

United Nations human rights experts have appealed to the new United States administration to immediately close the "disgraceful" Guantánamo Bay detention centre.

The remaining detainees risk death from rapidly deteriorating health by old age and mental and physical harm suffered in cruel and inhuman conditions of imprisonment, they said on Monday.

In 2003, the facility was holding 700 prisoners. Nineteen years later, 40 detainees still remain but only nine of them have been charged with or convicted of crimes, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

"Guantánamo is a place of arbitrariness and abuse, a site where torture and ill-treatment was rampant and remains institutionalised, where the rule of law is effectively suspended, and where justice is denied," the experts said on the 19th anniversary of its establishment on January 11, 2002.

The experts are Nils Melzer, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Leigh Toomey (chair-rapporteur), Elina Steinerte (vice-chair), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, Mumba Malila, Seong-Phil Hong of the working group on arbitrary detention, Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

They said the Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbates health vulnerabilities for the increasingly elderly prison population.

"The very existence of this facility is a disgrace for the United States and the international community as a whole. Guantánamo should have been closed a long time ago," the UN experts said.

Also Read - Pentagon thwarts Obama’s effort to close Gitmo prison

United Nations experts have consistently demanded the dismissal of the Military Commissions and the closure of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, holding them incompatible with the United States' obligations under international law.

"We must not forget these detainees, who have been subjected to torture or victims of comparable trauma, and still languish in Guantánamo, in a virtual legal limbo, outside the reach of the constitutional judicial system of the United States," they said.

"The prolonged and indefinite detention of individuals, who have not been convicted of any crime by a competent and independent judicial authority operating under due process of law, is arbitrary and constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or even torture."

Military Commissions are still undergoing pre-trial proceedings on motions to suppress evidence resulting from torture. Trials are not expected anytime soon, as such proceedings are likely to last several years, leaving the defendants indefinitely held. Six have long been cleared for transfer and one has recently been cleared for release through national security processes. All remain imprisoned.

"The Military Commissions violate the requirements of impartiality, independence and non-discrimination and should never have been used in the manner in which they were deployed at Guantánamo. These individuals should receive a fair and public hearing by competent, independent and impartial civilian court previously established by law," the experts said.

"We appeal to US authorities to prosecute, in full compliance with human rights law, the individuals held at Guantánamo Bay or, alternatively, immediately release or repatriate them while respecting the principle of non-refoulement."

'US must uphold its international legal obligations'

The experts said the United States must uphold its international legal obligations, conduct prompt and impartial investigations of alleged human rights violations and provide redress and rehabilitation to those who have endured prolonged arbitrary detention or any form of torture or ill-treatment.

"With a new administration coming into office in the United States and as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Guantánamo must finally be closed forever," they said.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail