(Photo from thirdage.com)
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, issued a statement denouncing the detention of the 86 men in Guantanamo Bay who have been cleared for release. Pillay claims that the United States is exercising, “the most flagrant breach of individual rights” and “a clear breach of international law.” Pillay also requested that human rights experts be allowed to meet with the 86 detainees. She stated, “I am deeply disappointed that the US government has not been able to close Guantanamo Bay [prison]… It severely undermines the United States stance…when addressing human rights violations elsewhere.”
Reports indicate that only six detainees at Gitmo are facing trial. More than half of the prisoners have been cleared for release, and some of the prisoners have been in Gitmo for over a decade. President Obama promised to close the prison soon into his first term, but Congress passed a law prohibiting the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the United States and requiring security guarantees before they can be transferred anywhere else. Congress has cited security concerns as a major reason: “Yemeni citizens-who make up the vast majority of those in a state of limbo-cannot return home.”
The hunger strike, that began two months ago at Gitmo, has snowballed and is up to at least forty men. Eleven of these protesters have lost so much weight that they are being force-fed liquid nutrients through feeding tubes.
Pillay has shown sympathy for the detainees, saying, “It is scarcely surprising that people’s frustrations boil over and they resort to such desperate measures.”
What influence will the UN’s statements have on the U.S. as it is faced with decisions related to the operation of Gitmo? Do you think Congress is correct for taking such precautions when dealing with these prisoners, or is the United States simply violating international law through this arbitrary detention?