Category Archives: Guantanamo

New York Times Editorial Board Calls on President Obama to Grant the Special Rapporteur on Torture Access to Guantanamo

June 20, 2016 — Today, The New York Times Editorial Board called on President Barack Obama to grant United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Ernesto Mendez access to visit and interview detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. “I want to believe that the use of torture by the United States is a dark chapter that has ended,” the Special Rapporteur said in an interview. “But I can’t be certain of that until we see a change in policy and verify that the United States is meeting all its international obligations,” he concluded.

Earlier this year, the Special Rapporteur and other independent human rights experts noted that “long term security can be regained [by the US] if a page is turned on this dark chapter of post-September 11 practices in response to terrorism,” and called on the Government to: end the prolonged arbitrary detention of all persons held at Guantánamo; establish an independent oversight mechanism to receive complaints, review all allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and provide access to effective remedies to all persons endured prolonged arbitrary arrest and/or physical and mental suffering; dismantle the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay and transfer the detainees charged with a criminal offence to United States federal facilities on the mainland; and investigate, prosecute and punish officials, public servants and military contractors who committed torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment, as well as those high level officials who ordered, tolerated or instigated such crimes.

The full article is available here.

Secret Area of Guantanamo Bay Could be Opened to the Special Rapporteur on Torture

May 12, 2016 — Attorneys for Ammar al-Baluchi, one of the accused 9/11 co-conspirators facing a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, will request that the judge in the case order access to Guantanamo’s Camp 7 – where he and other detainees formerly in brutal CIA custody reside practically incommunicado – for the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez.

“It is essential to my mandate to ensure that State institutions, including the facility at Guantanamo Bay, uphold unambiguously a zero tolerance policy against torture and ill-treatment and make efforts to eliminate the risk of ill-treatment and excessive force by the detaining authorities while in detention,” wrote the Special Rapporteur in a declaration to be submitted to the military commission.

For additional information, please click here.

Special Rapporteur Discusses Legality of Guantanamo Bay Detentions In New Radio Interview

January 26, 2015 – In a recent radio interview, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez spoke about the situation and legality of detentions by the United States at Guantanamo Bay.  The Special Rapporteur recognized the fact that the Obama administration has made some efforts to bring the use of detentions at Guantanamo Bay to an end, in accordance with the President’s January 22, 2009 Executive Order on the closure of the facility. However, he highlighted the fact that at least half of those who currently remain in detention have been cleared for release and will not be charged with any crime, making their continued detention arbitrary. In addition, the Special Rapporteur explained that detainees who are non-combatants and were apprehended as part of law enforcement operations must either be granted full due process guarantees in fair trials before independent tribunals, as required by international law and the United States Constitution, or released. To read the interview in full, follow this link.

UN Rights Experts on Torture and Counter-Terrorism Concerned about the Fate of Guantánamo Detainees

December 10, 2013 – The Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, and on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Ben Emmerson have expressed dismay at the recent transfer of Djamel Ameziane from Guantánamo Bay to Algeria. Mr. Ameziane was sent back to Algeria by the United States Government despite precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requiring the US to honor its non-refoulement obligations. The Special Rapporteurs warned that diplomatic assurances can be used by Governments to circumvent the absolute prohibition of torture as established in the UN Convention against Torture. The independent experts are “deeply concerned that the life of Mr. Ameziane could be in danger in Algeria,” and will follow up on the situation of Mr. Ameziane with the Algerian Government to ensure that he is treated humanely and with respect. To read the press release in full, please visit this link.

“The War on Terror is a Euphemism”

October 26, 2013 – El Espectador featured Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez in a Spanish language interview on the human rights situation of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The Special Rapporteur spoke about his numerous requests to the United States government to visit the detention facilities and the conditions under which he – and other human rights mechanisms – would be able to conduct such visit. He also referred to rhetoric on the subject of the war on terror and the interaction of human rights law and international humanitarian law in protecting the rights of detainees.

SRT submission to the IACHR: Hearing on Guantanamo

Special Rapporteur on Torture appears as Expert Witness before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on public hearing on the Human Rights situation of detainees in Guantanamo.

October 28 2013 – The Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, appeared as an expert witness before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on a public hearing on the human rights situation of detainees held in Guantánamo in which the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) acted as petitioners. In his submission to the IACHR, the Special Rapporteur called on the US government to grant access to the IACHR and other UN mechanisms, such as the Working Groups and the Special Rapporteurs, to Guantánamo to conduct visits and interviews of detainees without supervision. He also stressed that the conditions of detention in Guantánamo, including indefinite detention, solitary confinement,and forced feeding, amount to ill treatment and, under certain circumstances, constitute torture and need to be investigated in accordance with international law. He reiterated his call to prosecute or release prisoners and to take definite steps to close Guantánamo once and for all. A webcast of the hearing can be seen here.

The Special Rapporteur Discusses Solitary Confinement, Hunger Strikes, Situation of Prisoners in California, U.S., During Interview

October 24, 2013 – In an interview with Huffington Post the Special Rapporteur on torture expressed concern over the extensive use of solitary confinement in the U.S., and particularly in the state of California, where prisoners went on hunger strike to protest the practice last summer. The Special Rapporteur noted with concern that there are very few regulations governing the use of solitary confinement, and discussed his recent interventions in the California cases, as well as his requests to visit prisons in California and Guantanamo Bay.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez Delivers Statement at Expert Meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

October 2013 – The Special Rapporteur delivered a statement on the situation of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay before an expert meeting at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C.  The Special Rapporteur expressed the view that practices of indefinite detention and other conditions applied to detainees, such as solitary confinement and force feeding, constitute forms of ill-treatment that can amount to torture in certain instances. The Special Rapporteur additionally reiterated his concern that the regime applied at Guantanamo neither allows the guilty to be condemned nor secures release for innocent persons, noting that some detainees have been held at Guantanamo for more than a decade but have not been found guilty of a crime by a court of law.  With regards to visiting the facility, the Special Rapporteur explained that he has been unable to accept invitations to conduct restricted visits on conditions that he does not access certain parts of the facility and conduct interviews with prisoners that are monitored by prison officials.  Accordingly, the Special Rapporteur requested the U.S. Government to reconsider the terms of its invitation, and allow him to conduct a visit with unfettered access to the facility and the detainees.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Special Rapporteur Call for an End to the Indefinite Detentions at Guantánamo Bay

May 2013 – The IACHR and Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez have called on the United States to respect and guarantee the life, health and personal integrity of detainees at Guantánamo Bay in view of the current human rights crisis involving a mass detainee hunger strike. Read the press release here.