UN experts urge US to close Guantanamo Bay
Two UN working groups, on enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention, and five independent rights experts call on the US government to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Two decades after the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay, a group of UN experts urged Monday Washington to finally close the site of "unrelenting human rights violations".
More than a dozen independent UN rights experts voiced outrage that the military prison in Cuba -- created after the September 2001 attacks to house detainees in the US "war on terror"-- was still operating.
A stain on Washington's "commitment"
They described the detention center run by the US Navy, first opened to detainees on January 10, 2002, as a site of "unparallelled notoriety" and a "stain" on Washington's stated commitment to the rule of law.
"Twenty years of practicing arbitrary detention without trial accompanied by torture or ill-treatment is simply unacceptable for any government, particularly a government which has a stated claim to protecting human rights," the experts expressed in a statement.
Two UN working groups, along with five independent rights experts urged the US government to shut down the site, take back detainees home or to safe third countries, and to provide remedy and reparation for their torture and arbitrary detention.
As a newly-appointed member of the UN Human Rights Council, it is particularly important for the US to "close this ugly chapter of unrelenting human rights violations", pointed out the experts, who are appointed by the council, but do not speak on behalf of the UN.
Nine detainees died in custody
Once holding nearly 800 people seized around the world and transported to the Cuba facility, today the Guantanamo jail holds 39 men, some of them from the very first months after it opened.
A number of those remaining were subjected to torture by CIA interrogators in the first years of the post-9/11 detention program.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said Monday that US President Joe Biden wants to close the Guantanamo prison, though it remains a deeply contentious political issue.
"I will tell you the administration remains dedicated to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay," Kirby told reporters.
The experts pointed out that between 2002 and 2021, nine detainees died in custody -- seven of them reportedly from suicide. None had been charged with a crime, they said.
They insisted that those who had authorized and engaged in torture at Guantanamo should be brought to justice.
"When a state fails to hold accountable those who have authorized and practiced torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, it sends a signal of complacency and acquiescence to the world," the experts underlined.