UN and IACHR issue joint statement calling on United States to close Guantánamo

CEJIL and CCR demand end to indefinite detention as hunger strike threatens lives of over 100 men
05-01-13

New York and Washington, DC, May 1, 2013—The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) join the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in demanding that the United States take immediate steps to end the crisis currently unfolding in the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and close the detention center.

 

At this moment, over 100 of the men still detained in Guantánamo are involved in a hunger strike now in its third month, and are risking their very lives in order to protest their continued arbitrary, indefinite detention in Guantánamo. Over one-fifth of these men are being force-fed by the United States military. Additionally, the United States still refuses to allow IACHR and UN experts to visit prisoners in Guantánamo.

 

The Inter-American Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on countering terrorism, the UN Special Rapporteur on health, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in their joint communication, “call urgently on the Government of the United States of America to respect and guarantee the life, health and personal integrity of detainees at the Guantánamo Naval Base, particularly in the context of the current hunger strike.”

 

The Inter-American Commission, a human rights body of the OAS, has actively monitored the situation in Guantánamo since it first issued precautionary measures in 2002, as part of its mandate to issue important measures of protection in serious and urgent situations to prevent irreparable harm. The IACHR has repeatedly called on the United States to close Guantánamo, as have the UN special mandate-holders and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the statement, the Inter-American Commission recalls the information given by CEJIL and CCR during our thematic hearing at the IACHR’s March 2013 sessions including “specialized information on the severe and lasting physiological and psychological damage caused by the detainees’ high degree of uncertainty over basic aspects of their lives, such as knowing whether or not they will be tried; whether they will be released and when; or whether they will see their family members again.”

 

“At Guantánamo, the indefinite detention of individuals, most of whom have not been charged, goes far beyond a minimally reasonably period of time and causes a state of suffering, stress, fear and anxiety, which in itself constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,”  stressed Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

 

CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren said, “Contrary to its international obligations, the United States government continues to imprison 166 men in Guantánamo today, including 86 men who still languish in prison despite having been cleared for release by the United States. One of these men is our client Djamel Ameziane, whose landmark case was declared admissible by the IACHR in 2012 when CEJIL and CCR brought it.”

 

“Guantánamo has become a symbol of a failed policy to deal with terrorism by curtailing rights and engaging in practices that offend the values and principles upheld by international human rights law and the American Constitution” expressed Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL.

 

As this urgent, ongoing crisis threatens to end the lives of over 100 men, CEJIL and CCR join the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission in once again calling on the United States to end the indefinite detention of persons; fulfill its international obligations by taking concrete steps to close the detention facility without delay; safely transfer, release, and resettle detainees; and ensuring that detained men have effective access to justice. We also call on the US government to allow representatives of the Inter-American Commission and the United Nations special mandate-holders to visit Guantánamo with full access to the detained men.

Useful links:

For more information

CEJIL

Milli Legrain

202 319 3000

mlegrain@cejil.org

 

CCR

Jen Nessel

212.614.6449

JNessel@ccrjustice.org