UN Rapporteur Calls for Closure of US Guantanamo Prison
Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp: UN Expert Calls for Immediate Closure
The treatment of the remaining detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in the United States is still deemed “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” according to a UN special rapporteur. Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, has called for its immediate closure.
Speaking at a press conference in New York on Monday, Ni Aolain stated, “After two decades of detention, I have observed that the suffering of the inmates is deep and enduring.” She emphasized that the conditions in Guantanamo remain a dark chapter in US history.
Prior to her visit, Ni Aolain became the first UN special rapporteur to be granted official permission to access the detention camp. She expressed gratitude to the United States for the authorization and highlighted that she had been given full access. She also acknowledged “significant improvements” compared to previous reports on the conditions.
Nevertheless, Ni Aolain painted a grim picture of the circumstances in Guantanamo. The detainees have endured numerous abuses and have received inadequate medical care. Furthermore, they have had insufficient contact with their families, whether through visits or phone calls. “Taken together, these practices and omissions […] amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under my investigation in accordance with international law,” stated the UN special rapporteur.
UN Condemns Human Rights Violations in Guantanamo
Washington still needs to address the most blatant human rights violations concerning the detainees: their secret capture and transfer to Guantanamo in the early 2000s, as well as the frequent and severe torture inflicted by US officials in the years following the September 11 attacks.
Ni Aolain emphasized that the priority remains the closure of the detention camp, which operates outside the jurisdiction of the US justice system.
In February, the US Department of Defense announced that 34 prisoners were still held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, more than two decades after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The facility was established during the tenure of former Republican President George W. Bush to hold suspected Islamist terrorists without trial.
At its peak, the camp, located at the US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, held nearly 800 individuals. Human rights organizations have long called for its closure, and Amnesty International reiterated this demand following the release of the UN report.