Thursday, April 25, 2013

UN Calls For Closure Of Guantanamo Prison

The U.N. human rights chief called on the United States to close down the Guantanamo prison camp, saying the indefinite imprisonment of many detainees without charge or trial violated international law.
Navi Pillay said the hunger strike being staged by some inmates at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in southeastern Cuba was a "desperate act" but "scarcely surprising".
"We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.
Pillay voiced deep disappointment at the U.S. government's failure to close Guantanamo despite its repeated commitments.
About half of the current 166 detainees have been cleared for transfer either to home countries or third countries for resettlement, Pillay said. "As a first step, those who have been cleared for release must be released," she said.
"Others reportedly have been designated for further indefinite detention. Some of them have been festering in this detention center for more than a decade," she said.
Guantanamo detainees accused of crimes should be tried in civilian courts, especially as the military commissions "do not meet international fair trial standards" , said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.
Of the 166 remaining detainees, only nine have been charged or convicted of crimes, according to military records. The 166 detainees are from 23 countries, the Red Cross says.
An ICRC team of 13 now there are discussing issues including the hunger strike separately with authorities and in private interviews with inmates, ICRC spokesman Alexis Heeb said.
"Detainees can raise any problem they want to bring to our attention, this can be issues of detention, Koran issues, requests for medical attention," Heeb told Reuters.
The ICRC has a clear position of being opposed to forced feeding or forced treatment and upholds the principle of leaving the right to detainees to choose his or her fate, he said.

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