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Gitmo better than Belgian prisons, Europe detentions expert says after visit

[JURIST] An expert for Europe's largest security organization said Monday that prisoners held at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] are treated better than inmates in Belgian jails, after he returned from a visit to the prison last week. Alain Grignard [profile], superintendent of the Belgian Federal Police, went to Guantanamo as part of a delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) [official website] led by Anne-Marie Lizin [official website], president of the Belgian Senate [official website]. Belgium is chairing [official website] the 55-nation OSCE this year. Grignard said that the food, medical care, and allowance for Muslim prayer are better than any he has seen provided in Belgian prisons, but nonetheless insisted that holding inmates for years without charging them is "mental torture" for inmates.

The OSCE team accepted [OSCE press release] a December invitation by the Pentagon [JURIST report] to visit Guantanamo. Lizin is expected to report her findings to the annual general assembly of the OSCE in July. Grignard's comments Monday follow a UN report [PDF text; JURIST report] released last month which called for the closing of the prison, alleging widespread torture and human rights abuses. The UN rights experts were invited [JURIST report] in October to visit the prison, but declined [JURIST report] after being refused permission to speak directly to prisoners. Reuters has more.

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