United Nations’ torture investigator is denied access to camp x-ray prisoners

UN torture investigator denied access to Guantanamo prisoners

Wed Mar 6, 2013 2:22PM

United Nations’ torture investigator Juan Mendez said on Tuesday the Obama administration showed no sign of reversing its position and allowing him access to terrorism suspects in long-term detention at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Mendez, whose predecessor was also denied access to Guantanamo prisoners, said the latest Washington response indicated there would be no let up in U.S. insistence he could tour the facility but could not interview detainees.

“We had hoped that there would be a change of position when Barack Obama became president in 2009,” Mendez told reporters.

“But to my disappointment, the terms (offered by the United States) were no different.”

Under the U.N. rules for such visits, human rights investigators should be granted free access to any prisoners they wish to see without any officials being present, and at a time of their own choosing.

A U.N. treaty defines torture as including not just physical abuse but also inhuman and degrading treatment – like long-term solitary confinement – that can inflict mental anguish on inmates.

His predecessor, Austrian professor Manfred Nowak, long sought permission from the administration of George W. Bush to talk to detainees at the prison. Nowak turned down an invitation in 2004 because he would have had no access to them.

“I am persisting, but I don’t expect it to happen any time soon,” said Mendez, an Argentine human rights lawyer who now lives in the U.S. capital. Reuters


Obama’s predecessor George W Bush set up the prison after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Many detainees have been held there for years without being charged. DPA

More than four years ago, President Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo prison, recognizing that it symbolized the U.S. government’s violation of human rights and the best of American values in the name of “global war.” Not only has President Obama failed to close it, he has embraced two fundamental violations of human rights that make Guantanamo a stain on the United States’ credibility worldwide: unfair trials and indefinite detention. The Huffington Post

The Obama administration has blamed its failure to close the detention facility on Congress, which has indeed failed to ensure U.S. compliance with international human rights principles in this context. amnesty.org

In January, 2012, U.N. human rights Chief Navi Pillay said the United States was still flouting international law at Guantanamo Bay by arbitrarily and indefinitely detaining individuals. The Economic Times

Most of the detainees at Guantanamo have been imprisoned by the U.S. government for close to a decade without charges and with no end in sight to their captivity. Salon

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