[News] UN Human Rights Rapporteurs' report on Guantanamo

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Sun Feb 19 13:32:05 EST 2006

<mailto:skleine-ahlbrandt at ohchr.org>Stephanie 
<mailto:skleine-ahlbrandt at ohchr.org>Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2006 9:37 AM
Subject: Fw: UN Human Rights Rapporteurs' report on Guantanamo

In case you have not yet seen it, the full report 
is available at (press release only below): 


16 February 2006

The following statement was issued today by the 
Chairman Rapporteur of the Working Group on 
Arbitrary Detention, Leila Zerrougui; Special 
Rapporteur on the independence of judges and 
lawyers, Leandro Despouy; the Special Rapporteur 
on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading 
treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak; the 
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or 
belief, Asma Jahangir, and the Special Rapporteur 
on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the 
highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt:

Five independent investigators of the United 
Nations Commission on Human Rights are calling on 
the United States to close immediately the 
detention centre in Guantánamo Bay and bring all 
detainees before an independent and competent tribunal or release them.

The call comes in a report published today 
following an 18-month joint study by the experts 
into the situation of detainees at that United 
States Naval Base. The report's findings are 
based on information from the United States 
Government, interviews conducted by the experts 
with former Guantánamo Bay detainees currently 
residing or detained in France, Spain and the 
United Kingdom and responses from lawyers acting 
on behalf of some current detainees. It also 
relies on information available in the public 
domain, including reports prepared by 
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 
information contained in declassified official 
United States documents and media reports. The 
experts expressed regret that the Government did 
not allow them the opportunity to have free 
access to detainees in Guantanamo Bay and carry 
out private interviews, as provided by the terms 
of reference accepted by all countries they visit.

The five experts ? specializing in issues related 
to arbitrary detention, freedom of religion, the 
right to health, torture and the independence of 
judges and lawyers ? conclude that the persons 
held at Guantánamo Bay are entitled to challenge 
the legality of their detention before a judicial 
body and to obtain release if detention is found 
to lack a proper legal basis. The continuing 
detention of all persons held at Guantánamo Bay 
amounts to arbitrary detention, they state, 
adding that ? where criminal proceedings are 
initiated against a detainee ? the executive 
branch of the United States Government operates 
as judge, prosecutor and defence counsel in 
violation of various guarantees of the right to a fair trial

According to the experts, attempts by the United 
States Administration to redefine "torture" in 
the framework of the struggle against terrorism 
in order to allow certain interrogation 
techniques that would not be permitted under the 
internationally accepted definition of torture 
are of utmost concern. The confusion with regard 
to authorized and unauthorized interrogation 
techniques over the last years is particularly 
alarming. The interrogation techniques authorized 
by the Department of Defense, particularly if 
used simultaneously, amount to degrading 
treatment. If in individual cases, which were 
described in interviews, the victim experienced 
severe pain or suffering, these acts amounted to 
torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention 
against Torture. Furthermore, the general 
conditions of detention, in particular the 
uncertainty about the length of detention and 
prolonged solitary confinement, amount to inhuman 
treatment and to a violation of the right to 
health as well as a violation of the right of 
detainees to be treated with humanity and with 
respect for the inherent dignity of the human 
person. They add that force-feeding of competent 
detainees violates the right to health as well as 
the ethical duties of any health professionals who may be involved.

Among their recommendations, the experts say 
terrorism suspects should be detained in 
accordance with criminal procedure that respects 
the safeguards enshrined in relevant 
international law. Accordingly, the United States 
Government should either expeditiously bring all 
Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial or release them 
without further delay. They also call on the 
Government to close down the Guantánamo Bay 
detention centre and to refrain from any practice 
amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment, discrimination on the basis 
of religion, and violations of the rights to 
health and freedom of religion. The investigators 
also request full and unrestricted access to the 
Guantánamo Bay facilities, including private 
interviews with detainees. Consideration should 
also be given to trying suspected terrorists 
before a competent international tribunal.

Chronology leading up to report:

The five mandate holders have been following the 
situation of detainees held at the United States 
Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay since January 2002. 
In June 2004, the Annual Meeting of special 
rapporteurs/representatives, experts and 
chairpersons of working groups of the special 
procedures and the advisory services programme of 
the Commission on Human Rights, decided that they 
should continue this task as a group because the 
situation concerns each of their mandates.

In studying the situation, they have continuously 
sought the cooperation of the United States 
authorities. They sent a number of letters 
requesting the United States Government to allow 
them to visit Guantánamo Bay in order to gather 
first hand information from the prisoners 
themselves. By letter dated 28 October 2005, the 
Government of the United States of America 
extended an invitation for a one-day visit to 
three of the five mandate holders, inviting them 
"to visit the Department of Defense's detention 
facilities [of Guantánamo Bay]". The invitation 
stipulated that "the visit will not include 
private interviews or visits with detainees". In 
their response to the Government dated 31 October 
2005, the mandate holders accepted the 
invitation, including the short duration of the 
visit and the fact that only three of them were 
permitted access, and informed the US Government 
that the visit was to be carried out on 6 
December 2005 . However, they did not accept the 
exclusion of private interviews with detainees, 
as that would contravene the terms of reference 
for fact-findings missions by special procedures 
and undermine the purpose of an objective and 
fair assessment of the situation of detainees 
held in Guantánamo Bay. In the absence of 
assurances from the Government that it would 
comply with the terms of reference, the mandate 
holders decided on 18 November 2005 to cancel the visit.

* *** *
For use of information media; not an official record

Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Programme Manager, Asia-Pacific Unit
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. + 41.22.917.9112 - Fax. + 41.22.917.9018
email: <mailto:skleine-ahlbrandt at ohchr.org>skleine-ahlbrandt at ohchr.org
Visiting address: Palais Wilson - 52, rue des 
Pâquis, CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Mailing address: UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Website: http:// <http://www.ohchr.org/>www.ohchr.org


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