human rights Peoples Dispatch Prisoners' Rights

UN Expert Demands Immediate Shutting Down of Guantanamo Prison, Apology to Inmates 

UN special rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the first such expert who was allowed to visit the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in over 20 years, noted that US’ treatment of detainees was “cruel, inhuman and degrading”
(Photo: Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

By Peoples Dispatch

UN special rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin on Monday, June 26, asked the US authorities to shut down the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison and apologize for the torture of inmates. She asked that all persons responsible for such abuses in the last 20 years be held accountable. 

Ní Aoláin was addressing a press conference in New York on the occasion of UN’s International Day in Solidarity with the Victims of Torture. She also released her report on Guantanamo Bay prepared after visiting the prison earlier this year.   

“The US government must urgently provide judicial resolution, apology and guarantees of non-repetition,” Ní Aoláin said, claiming that the establishment was in violation of international human rights laws. She described the treatment of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo by the US authorities as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

Her report emphasized that “the US government is under a continuing obligation to complete thorough, independent and effective investigations into alleged violations, sanction those responsible, provide appropriate redress and reparation to all victims and adopt effective guarantees for non-repetition.”  

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Ní Aoláin was the first UN expert who was allowed by the US to visit the detention center which was illegally built on occupied Cuban territory in 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks during the George Bush presidency. It was built as a part of Bush’s so-called war on terror and to avoid the US domestic legal system. 

US officials use systemic abuse and torture to extract false evidences 

Since its inception, there were unconfirmed reports about torture and human rights violations being committed by US officials. However, the systematic rights violations and methods of torture used on the inmates at Guantanamo Bay to extract confessions and false evidence were made public in a series of documents released by WikiLeaks in 2011, in what is known as the Gitmo Files.   

Despite the abuses coming to light, the US government failed to find anything incriminating. Former detainees continue to be on the US “terrorist watchlist” even after years of release, making their rehabilitation difficult, the report notes. It calls on the US government to remove all ex-detainees from the terror watchlist and provide adequate compensation to former inmates. 

At one point, there were close to 800 detainees at the Guantanamo prison. Most of the detainees have been released gradually after spending years at Gitmo without any charge or trial. However, 30 detainees still remain there, of whom 16 have been cleared for release by US authorities. Only two of the 30 have been convicted so far, while nine others are being tried in military tribunals. 

Reacting to Ní Aoláin’s report, the Joe Biden administration tried to play down the findings, claiming that it provides protection to the inmates as per international and domestic laws.

After making announcements that he will shut down the facility once in power, Biden has toned down his claim by saying that the prison will be shut down gradually. 

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Peoples Dispatch

Peoples Dispatch, formerly The Dawn News, is an international media project with the mission of bringing to you voices from people’s movements and organizations across the globe. Since its establishment three years ago, it has sought to ensure that the coverage of news from around the world is not restricted to the rhetoric of politicians and the fortunes of big companies but encompasses the richness and diversity of mobilizations from around the world.

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