U.S. Must Press Forward with Plans to Close Guantanamo Bay | Freedom House

U.S. Must Press Forward with Plans to Close Guantanamo Bay

Washington

Freedom House continues to be concerned about the humanitarian situation of detainees in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and urges U.S. authorities to take concrete steps to end the indefinite detention of detainees without charge or trial and to move quickly towards President Barack Obama’s stated commitment to close the facility.

According to news reports, 130 of 166 detainees in the prison are on hunger strike, 86 of whom have not been accused of any crime and have been cleared for release. Many of the detainees are being force-fed through feeding tubes and numerous cases of attempted suicides have been reported. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has stated that force-feeding prisoners, which is a painful process that could be perceived as torture, is in violation of international law.

“The United States must hold itself to the same standard that it expects of others. This includes respecting the right of every individual to due process and protection from indefinite detention,” said Freedom House president David J. Kramer.  “Congress needs to work with the president to come up with a solution that is safe and protects American interests while respecting international law.”

The military detention camp, opened in January 2002 after the United States launched its military campaign in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, remains open despite pledges by President Obama to close it. During its tenure, 779 men have been held in the camp. This includes more than 20 minors who have not been treated in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (on the involvement of children in armed conflict), to which the United States is a signatory. Under former president George W. Bush, U.S. officials admitted to using interrogation methods on detainees that are now widely considered cruel and degrading treatment, and even torture, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold. These practices were subsequently terminated by President Obama.

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.