Thursday, February 16, 2006

Human Rights Abuses

UN calls for Guantanamo closure

The United Nations has called for the immediate closure of the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.

In a report on conditions there, the UN says the US should try all detainees or release them "without further delay".

The UN investigators allege that some aspects of the inmates' treatment amount to torture.

The US has rejected most of the allegations, saying that the five investigators never actually visited Guantanamo Bay.

About 500 people are imprisoned at the facility, many of whom were detained more than four years ago.

One of the investigators, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak said that the detention of inmates for years without charge amounted to arbitrary detention.

"Those persons either have to be released immediately or they should be brought to a proper and competent court and tried for the offences they are charged with," he told the BBC.

Access row
Speaking in London before the release of the report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she could not endorse every recommendation made by the report - but that she could see little alternative to closing down the facility.

In its conclusions, the report urges the US government to "refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", including the force-feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes.

In particular, it says, special interrogation techniques authorised by the US defence department should not be used.

The report ended by demanding that the UN be granted full and unrestricted access to the camp's facilities, including private interviews with detainees.

The US invited the UN to the camp, but refused to grant the investigators the right to speak to detainees in private.

The UN said that private interviews were a "totally non-negotiable pre-condition" for conducting the visit and refused to send investigators.

BBC News Website (Feb. 16, 2006)


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