West News Wire: The Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, operated by the US government, is home to prisoners who are subjected to “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” according to a UN arbitrator who is independent of the organisation.
In the facility’s two-decade history, UN observer Fionnuala Ni Aolain became the first human rights investigator to be given entry in February. Ni Aolain has documented a number of “human rights issues” in a 23-page report, including the “unwillingness of the authorities to face the consequences of the torture” being carried out at Guantanamo, but thanking President Joe Biden’s administration for allowing her to audit the camp.
After the report’s publication on Monday, Ni Aolain stated at a press conference that “after two decades of imprisonment, the suffering of those detained is profound, and it is ongoing.” She added that “every single detainee” is suffering from the “unrelenting harms that follow from systematic practices of rendition, torture and arbitrary detention.”
The camp, which was established soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks as part of the US government’s so-called “War on Terror,” has housed 780 men in its 21-year history. Both current President Biden and former president Barack Obama have already declared their intention to close the plant.
The Biden administration did, however, approve plans to enlarge the building by adding a new $4 million courtroom in late 2021. The facility has primarily been utilised to hold Muslim militants and suspected terrorists that the US has captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places.
Ni Aolain accused the US government of failing to provide rehabilitation programs for detainees facing “urgent mental and physical health issues,” ranging from relatively minor medical complaints to permanent disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. She also expressed “profound concern” that 19 of the 30 men at the facility had never been charged with a crime with some having been in US custody for 20 years.
Among her recommendations following the review, Ni Aolain said that the facility should be immediately closed.
In response to the report, Washington said that all UN member states should be open to “the scrutiny of outside observers” but defended the conditions at Guantanamo Bay as “humane.”
“Detainees live communally and prepare meals together; receive specialized medical and psychiatric care; are given full access to legal counsel; and communicate regularly,” read a statement issued from the desk of the US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Michele Taylor.