US Prisoners in Guantanamo Still Suffer Cruel Treatment

The prison at the US Naval Base on occupied Cuban territory is considered by many a disgrace for a country that prides itself of upholding the rule of law and prisoner rights.


HAVANA TIMES – Prisoners held by the United States at the prison in their naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, continue to be subjected to “constant cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, according to international Law,” UN expert Fionnuala Ni Aolain announced after visiting the facility.

It was the first time a UN expert has visited this prison, which the US opened in 2002 and has come to hold over 700 prisoners, as a result of the US war against terror after the Twin Towers attack in New York on September 11, 2001.

There are currently 30 male prisoners being held, some have been detained for two decades without a trial, and they have been victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, according to UN criteria.

Ni Aolain, a Law professor in Ireland, expressed “serious concerns about the detention of 30 men and the systematic arbitrariness that pervades their day-to-day, bringing severe insecurity, suffering and anxiety to all of them, without exceptions.”

Her visit to the US, as an independent expert that operates under the umbrella of the UN Human Rights Council, covered three areas: the rights of victims of the September 11, terrorist attacks, prisoners in Guantanamo, and the rights of former detainees.

She said that the September 11, attacks – with planes that crashed into the Twin Towers causing them to collapse, resulting in 3,000 fatalities – were a crime against humanity, and she spoke to victims and survivors about the devastating long-term consequences of these attacks on people, their families and communities.

She praised the vast legislative, social, symbolic, and financial actions taken to support victims and survivors of 9/11, but she stressed that more needed to be done to fill the gaps in realizing their rights to reparation, including a legislative provision to ensure long-term medical entitlements,” she said.

She also recognized the US’ openness for her visit, their willingness to establish a dialogue and giving her access to every cell she asked for, as well as prisoners.

All of the prisoners she met, Muslim men, “live with the unrelenting harm caused by their systematic rendition, torture and arbitrary detention.”

The prison infrastructure involves near-constant surveillance, forced cell extractions, undue use of restraint and other arbitrary procedures that fail to uphold human rights; there are structural shortcomings in healthcare and inadequate access to families.

“The totality of these practices and omissions have cumulative, compounding effects on detainees’ dignity and fundamental rights, and amounts to ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” Ni Aolain said, concluding that “closure of the facility remains a priority.”

Former U.S. president Barack Obama (2009-2017), and current US president Joe Biden have promised to close the prison in Guantanamo plenty of times, but it has yet to be done, partly because of obstacles placed by US Congress.

Ni Aolain also met with repatriated and resettled prisoners and their families, as well as government officials from other countries, and pointed out the grave shortcomings in providing former detainees with the essential means they need to rebuild their lives, including a legal identity, healthcare, education, housing and freedom of movement.

She said that these shortcomings contravened US international law obligations, engaged before, during, and after transfer, including as regards non-refoulement.

She added that these obligations are greater yet because these individuals have suffered in their cusrody, which means they need to be guaranteed adequate rehabilitation.

She made an appeal to the US Government to ensure accountability for all international law violations, both for victims of terrorism and victims of the war against terrorism.

“The time is now to undo the legacies of exceptionalism, and discrimination perpetuated by Guantanamo’s continuing existence,” she concluded.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

One thought on “US Prisoners in Guantanamo Still Suffer Cruel Treatment

  • In order to be consistent, Cuba ought to close all jails in the country that practice torture and abuse of human rights! What is good for the US goose, is appropriate for the Cuban gander!

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