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A United Nations investigator who was given unrestricted access to the detention center at the US naval station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, reports that prisoners face “continuous cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” and says that the infamous site should be shut down.
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, spoke on Monday about her new report on the treatment of current and former detainees. She said that she also met with the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
It was the first official visit by a UN expert to Guantanamo, the group said.
While Ní Aoláin said detainees who have spent years in the facility continue to face fair trials and due process violations, he acknowledged that conditions at the detention center had improved in recent years and praised the Biden administration for its public promise to close what has become known as Guantanamo.
“The US government has led by example by being prepared to address the most difficult human rights issues,” Ní Aoláin said in a statement. “I affirm the opening of the technical visit, the spirit of positive constructive dialogue that sustained it and the singular importance of access to all places of detention affirmed by it.”
The report comes as guilty pleas by the alleged masterminds of the 9/11 terror attacks remain stuck in limbo and more than two years after Biden officials said they aimed to shut down Guantanamo. Although the administration has transferred several detainees in recent years, the detention center continues to function.
In 2016, President Barack Obama called the Guantanamo Bay prison “a blot on our broader record” and argued that it should be closed, but Donald Trump took a different tack when he became president, proclaiming instead that he would “load ( Guantánamo) with some bad guys”.
Thirty men remain in detention at Guantanamo, 19 of whom have never been charged with any crime, Ní Aoláin said.
Their lengthy report found that “almost constant surveillance, forced cell removals, and misuse of restraints” are still present at the detention center, as well as other procedures that violate human rights. He added that many detainees who were tortured have not received “independent, holistic or adequate” rehabilitation.
Ní Aoláin, a professor at the University of Minnesota and Queen’s University of Belfast Law School, also met with repatriated and resettled detainees and said they lacked basic rights and services such as legal identity, health care, education, housing , family. reunification and freedom of movement.
Declaring 9/11 a “crime against humanity,” Ní Aoláin noted that victims and survivors of the attacks were suffering “devastating long-term consequences” and said officials should do more to support them.
“While I commend the extensive legislative, social, symbolic and financial action taken to support the victims and survivors of 9/11, more needs to be done to fill the significant gaps in the realization of their rights to redress, including a integral legislative provision to guarantee the long duration”. long-term security and reliability of compensation and medical rights,” she said.