Almost constant surveillance, grueling solitary confinement and limited contact with family – the treatment of the last 30 prisoners at Guantanamo is, according to UN human rights expert Fionnuala Ni Aolain, “cruel, inhuman and degrading”. This emerges from the report on their first visit to the US detention center, presented on Monday. The UN Special Rapporteur said the ill-treatment in the prison amounted to a violation of prisoners’ fundamental rights and liberties.
The prisoners were arrested as suspects after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and have been held in the camp in Cuba for around two decades. They have endured numerous abuses and received inadequate medical care, Ni Aolain told reporters. In addition, they had not had sufficient contact with their families, whether through visits or telephone calls.
“The aggregate of all these practices and omissions (…) in my investigation amounts to continued cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law,” said the UN Special Rapporteur. She traveled with a team to Guantanamo in February after two decades of unsuccessful efforts by United Nations human rights experts to visit the prison.
Closure of the warehouse has priority
Washington still has to deal with the most blatant human rights violations related to the prisoners – their secret capture and transfer to Guantanamo in the early 2000s and the often massive torture by US officials in the first years after the September 11 attacks. Ni Aolain emphasized that closing the detention center, which is outside the jurisdiction of the US judiciary, remains a priority.
The US government set up the Guantanamo prison camp at a US naval base in Cuba after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. In the meantime, the highly controversial camp had almost 800 inmates.
bri/sti (afp, dpa)