Conditions Worsen at Guantanamo bay 6


From Amnesty International

In a new report published today (5 April), Amnesty International says that 80% of detainees at the US military prison at Guant’namo Bay in Cuba are being held in solitary confinement, often in harsh and inhumane conditions.

The report, published days after UK resident Bisher al-Rawi was returned from Guant’namo after over four years in detention – some of it in solitary confinement, calls for an end to the routine use of extended solitary confinement by the US authorities and for independent medical experts to be allowed to examine the prisoners.

Amnesty International has long called for the entire camp to be closed, with plans for unfair ‘military commission’ trials to be abandoned. Last month the organisation published a 103-page report condemning the military commissions as a ‘travesty of justice’.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: ‘The entire process at Guant’namo is a travesty of justice, but we have particular concerns over the widespread use of solitary confinement in harsh conditions at the camp.

‘With many prisoners already in despair at being held in indefinite detention on a remote island prison, some are dangerously close to full-blown mental and physical breakdown after years of solitary confinement.

‘The US authorities should immediately stop pushing people to the edge with extreme isolation techniques and allow proper access for independent medical experts and human rights groups.’

There are approximately 385 men held at Guant’namo Bay and, after an apparent hardening of US operational detention policy in January, around 300 of these are now being held in three units with minimal contact with other prisoners or even prison guards. These units – known as Camp 5, Camp 6 and Camp Echo – are comparable to so-called ‘super-max’ high security units in the United States.

Unlike mainland super-max prisoners, however, Guant’namo detainees are held indefinitely as ‘enemy combatants’, face either no trial at all or an unfair one, have no family visits and no independent expert examinations.

The Red Cross, the only independent monitoring organisation allowed to inspect the detention facilities at Guant’namo, has described conditions at Camp Echo as ‘extremely harsh’. Prisoners are kept in their windowless cells for 23 or 24 hours a day, and – in the absence of any natural light whatsoever – fluorescent lighting is kept on 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, Camp 6 has been described by one detainee as a ‘dungeon above the ground’…

The full press release is available here and the report (pdf) can be downloaded here

The AI petition calling for the return of all the British residents held at Gauntanamo can be signed here


6 thoughts on “Conditions Worsen at Guantanamo bay

  • NightWatch

    The thing that concerns me about the statements our elected leaders (who say they are opposed to torture) make about "torture" of captives, is that "it doesn't work".

    I don't believe a single one of them have said it is morally reprehensible or any other strong condemning statement.

    Well, I guess another thing disturbs me. Now that we have a "democratic" congress. I know of no official that has offered a "bill" to cancel the provisions in the law that apparently allows torture.

    Leads one to believe, they are all cut from the same criminal cloth.

  • writeon

    It all depends on what one means by "torture"? The Bush team have a very narrow definition which I'll parody hear. Torture happens in a dark, dank, ghasttly, underground chamber, in weird castle. It's done old-school, medieval style; with hot irons, the rack, thumb-screws. There's a lot of screaming, pleading and wheeping. Also the people carrying out the torture are true sadists, who take an unusually pleasure in their work.

    Now, as Americans are not involved in the above scenario, and they don't enjoy inflicting phsycal pain on prisoners, it's actually something they feel badly about having to be forced to do, then we can honestly say we aren't involved in torture or condone it.

    You'll appriciate, of course, that this rather wide definition of torture, leaves a lot to be desired.

  • NightWatch

    writeon,

    I'm surprised at your response that we in the USA don't operate as you describe in your "parody". Makes one wonder how closely you have been following events…and more importantly, where you get your "news". One hopes not FOX or some such.

    First, the torture chambers of Abu Gharib were indeed underground in an actual basement…just like a dungeon. And while we "say" treatment has improved there, we don't really "know", do we?

    One must also assume from your comments that you have not seen a more complete set of torture photographs from Abu Gahrib. You might still be able to find some nice bloody ones at salon.com. Or, try some other Australian outlets as the "leak" seems to have been from that direction. Three cheers for the Aussies!!!

    It is hard for me to believe that once you see the very graphic evidence of dogs ripping into prisoner flesh (while on a leash, by the way), you will still believe there was no "sadism" involved on the part of the USA military.

    Let me offer you an old saying: "For every rat you see, there are 10 you don't".

    This is to say, that we have seen quite a few "rats" or ratish behavior in these last years, which by the old formula, means we have an epidemic of abuse or torture.

    Further, as I get closer to my 60's, I find it nice to have a personal historical perspective of abuses by my goverment during my lifetime. This is something you don't appear to have for yourself yet. But, never fear, you will if you learn to cast the same critical eye upon your leaders (even the ones you like), the same as you would a snake oil salesman who comes to your door.

  • writeon

    Dear Nightwatch,

    It's in the nature of parody to use irony. I am aware of the ghastly methods used by american torturers and their helpers. I was only attmepting to illustrate the official, public "definition" of torture as presented by the Bush administration. When Bush or Gonzales are asked questions about the use of torture, they reply, we don't use torture, they can say this, one because they are lying and two, they have a very narrow and specific definition of torture. This isn't accidental. They have concerns about their legal standing, now and when they leave office. So they've been trying to construct a "subtle" legal defence strategy, if they are ever prosecuted in the american courts.

    Isn't it understandable that one can empathize and understand the arguments, attitudes and motivations of other, even the Bush gang, without necessarily agreeing with them? I'm a writer and getting inside people's heads is what I do for a living. I wrote a story once about an SS officer, that didn't mean I supported the SS!

  • NightWatch

    writeon,

    Thanks for your note and my apologies, should they be appropriate.

    I don't think I suggested it was not okay to look at, write about or otherwise study the "other side" of the argument. In fact, it is essential to critical thought or scientific method, isn't it? It is sad that due to the absence of any meaningful discussion of the Bushies actions and behaviors, that I find myself rooting for the "enemy", when they say the things my own leaders and countrymen should be saying.

    Let us hope we hound the Bushies well into retirement or even better a nice series of trials. But, unfortunately, we don't really have an alternate political party that is much different.

    In the future, I will have to read your stuff twice in order to pick up the fullness. You Brits are so wry. A characteristic I admire, btw.

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