Contributed from Victoria
A United Nations investigator, with a background in the Irish legal system has released a report that calls for proper treatment of prisoners still being held in the Guantanamo detention centre. Headed by Irish law expert Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, a team visited the prison where 30 men continue to be incarcerated without any date for release.
The now released 23 page report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) says that these men have been subjected “to ongoing cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law.” They have also been held without charge or trial for more than 25 years.
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin speaking on the Guantanamo report
The report was the result of direct investigation and speaking with the inmates.
“I observed that after two decades of custody, the suffering of those detained is profound, and it’s ongoing,” Ní Aoláin said.
Details on the violation of international human rights law are in the report, and this includes but is not limited to the use of torture to ‘extract information’.
Professor Ní Aoláin said there is evidence of “deep psychological harm and distress — including profound anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, stress and depression, and dependency,” and the care and facilities “are not adequate to meet the complex and urgent mental and physical health issues of detainees” which range from traumatic brain injuries to issues with bodily functions.”
Although the firs such visit allowed, it remained conditional. Consequently, it was supportive of the Biden administration, despite to continuing imprisonment, The focus was on praising some minor changes, which were called significant improvements. The report did not question long-term detention without charge or trial.
Photo by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T McCoy/ US Department of Defense/Reuters: Prisoners at Guantanamo held without charge and routinely tortured
Guantanamo became a centre to hold captives, mostly after the invasion of Afghanistan. They had been kidnapped, with many having been renditioned to third countries for torture along the way. WikiLeaks was the first to make and the conditions at Guantanamo public.
For years there has been a wall of silence over this, Other governments have turned a blind eye to it. The result is that Guantanamo has served as a precedent to legitimise long-term imprisonment without charge, limiting the right to a proper defence and the presumption of guilt unless proven otherwise, plus the use of closed tribunals without the protections that the legal system is supposed to provide, whenever. The precedent has been used to legitimise the mistreatment of prisoners in the United States and its closest allies.
The treatment of Julian Assange is the best known case. The United States and Britian, assisted by Australia, have brushed away legal niceties to get their man. There are other less well known cases bringing the same treatment into place.
Guantanamo is a stain that must not only be removed by the release of its prisoners and shutting it down. Its evil must be recognised, and its spreading infection stopped.