Guantanamo Bay: Open for Business

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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?



Sources: MSNBC; PressTV; Huffington Post; NBC


  1. I hope that the UN statements will be a wakeup call for the US, letting the US knows that it is not immune to international laws and eyes are on its treatment of prisoners and whether it abides by international law. It is shameful and disgusting that more than half of the prisoners are cleared for the release, and only 6 are awaiting trial. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) holds that: “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person,” “no one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention,” and “[m]andatory and indefinite detention violate international laws that state it shall not be the general rule, release should be preferred with guarantees to appear for trial.” As the US ratified the ICCPR, it is bound by those laws, and it appears that it clearly has broken them. Again, I hope that the US would listen to statements by the UN, but it is unclear if it will.

  2. We can all hope that the U.N. statements will be a wake up call for the U.S., but unfortunately, I do not believe that they will be. Guantanomo Bay has been criticized for years by human rights activists. I find it absolutely repulsive that 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. It is the clearest violation of human rights. Men are cleared for release, but they are still being held against their will. I agree that their release should, for a limited amount of time, take a back seat to security concerns. But, this is taking it way too far. It is unbelievable that Congress could not find a way to release these prisons after such a large amount of time. There is just simply no excuse anymore. Hopefully, the statements by the U.N. will open up Congress’ eyes, but I think that the U.N. will have to take further, more drastic, actions to release these innocent prisoners.

  3. I think it is good that Congress is being cautious about the release of these prisoners but it sounds like it is a little out of control. The United States looks like a hypocrite by interfering and taken certain stances in international human rights issues while on the home front, the US is violating the human rights of these prisoners at Guantanamo. The prisoners, including the ones that have been cleared and are waiting for release, are trying to do something about this clear violation of their rights. As Pat mentioned, they are on a hunger strike and just yesterday some of the prisoners fought with makeshift weapons when the guards tried to move them from a communal section of the detention center to single, solid-walled cells in order to monitor them better. The guards ultimately had to resort to rubber bullets in order to gain control of the situation. It seems that Guantanamo is a hard question that Congress is avoiding. It does not want to release the prisoners that have been “released” or close the prison because of the need to protect our country from future threats but something must be done about this outright breach of individual human rights.

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