US must apologize to Guantanamo Bay inmates for 'inhuman' treatment: UN expert
The U.S. should apologize for its treatment of Guantánamo Bay inmates, who have faced “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” a United Nations expert said.
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, who conducted the first official visit by a U.N. investigator to the U.S. detention facility in Cuba, made the comments on Monday.
Despite some improvements in the prison, she found that the facility — which now holds 30 inmates, down from nearly 800 at its height — continued to entail “near-constant surveillance, forced cell extractions, undue use of restraints, and other arbitrary, non-human rights compliant operating procedures," she said in her report to the U.N. Human Rights Office.
“The totality of these practices and omissions have cumulative, compounding effects on detainees’ dignity and fundamental rights, and amounts to ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” Ní Aoláin said, adding, “Closure of the facility remains a priority.”
While Washington claims that it can hold detainees indefinitely without charge under the international laws of war, the detention facility has come under intense criticism since it was set up by the Bush White House in 2002 during America's so-called "war on terror",.
Ní Aoláin, an Irish law professor, is the U.N.'s special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Speaking at the U.N. on Monday, Ní Aoláin said the U.S. should apologize for its treatment of detainees, according to Reuters. She concluded that the U.S. government must ensure accountability for all international law violations.
The U.S. established the Guantánamo military base in 1903. President George W. Bush opened the detention facility in 2002, and it held nearly 800 detainees at its height.
The most high-profile prisoner held there is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
Barack Obama had pledged to shut down the prison as president, and two days after being inaugurated signed an executive order to close it by the end of the year. But while his administration significantly reduced the population, congressional resistance hampered the bid to close the facility.
After Donald Trump became president, he signed an executive order to keep the site open.