UN expert urges US to apologize for Guantanamo abuse | Human Rights News

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A United Nations expert has called on the United States to apologize for torturing detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison, hold them accountable for abuses, and the infamous detention facility it runs. to close the US in Cuba.

In a report released on Monday, UN Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ni Aolain thanked US President Joe Biden’s administration for allowing him access to the facility earlier this year but stressed the need to counter breaches to correct detainees.

Ni Aolain said that the torture of detainees in secret places known as black sites and then at Guantanamo was the “single most important obstacle” to ensuring justice for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

“The importance of apologies and unrepeated promises to victims of terrorism and victims of torture betrayed by these practices will be less urgent in the coming years,” the report read.

The Guantanamo detention facility opened in 2002 under US President George W Bush to house detainees captured during the so-called “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks at al-Qaeda in New York and Washington, DC on September 11, 2001.

At one time there were nearly 800 detainees in the prison. The prison population is now down to 30, and more than half of them – 16 detainees – have been declared eligible for release by US authorities.

Located at a US military base in Cuba, the prison operates under a system of military commissions that do not guarantee the same rights as traditional US courts.

Rights groups have long denounced rights abuses at Guantanamo – including forced feeding and beatings of detainees, and a lack of due process – and have called for its closure.

Ni Aolain’s report on Monday said abuses are ongoing at the prison facility, highlighting “structural deficiencies and systemic irregularities including training, operating procedures, and the fulfillment of detainees’ rights to health care, family counseling and justice”.

For example, prisoners are called by serial number, not their names – a policy that Ni Aolain said “undermines the self-worth and dignity of every prisoner, especially in the context of living without freedom, communication, and relationship with the outside world. “.

In addition, Ni Aolain highlighted the “almost constant surveillance, forced cell extraction, inappropriate use of restraints” and solitary confinement that she said is still being used at Guantanamo.

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Ni Aolain said that all the prisoners she met live with the “relentless traumas” caused by the “fixation, torture and arbitrary detention”. regular” them.

“I noticed that after two decades of detention, the suffering of those who are detained is great, and it continues,” she said.

Ni Aolain said she was the first UN special rapporteur to have access to Guantanamo to investigate conditions at the facility – a fact she credited to the administration of US President Joe Biden.

“It is this administration that allowed the trip at the beginning of my tenure – through a process of discussion and communication -,” she said.

Amnesty International said Monday’s “shadow” report indicates the need to close the detention facility.

“It is high time to call for the closure of the prison, accountability from US officials, and reparations for the torture and other ill-treatment the detainees have suffered at the hands of the government of the USA,” said the organization’s secretary general, Agnes Callamard. , he said in a statement.

The Biden administration, which argues that it is working to reduce the number of inmates at the prison to eventually close it, pushed back against some of Ni Aolain’s decisions while acknowledging her recommendations.

“We are committed to the safe and humane treatment of detainees at Guantanamo in accordance with international and US domestic law,” Michele Taylor, the US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, said in a statement. published with the report.

“Detainees live communally and prepare meals together; receiving specialized medical and psychiatric care; having full access to legal advice; and regular communication with family members.”

Earlier on Monday, Biden issued a statement recognizing International Day in Aid of Victims of Torture in which he condemned all “inhumane forms of treatment” and pledged that the US would support people who survived the torture while seeking justice.

“Torture is prohibited everywhere and at all times. It’s illegal, immoral, and a stain on our conscience,” Biden said.

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