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Guantanamo Bay detainees face 'systematic' abuse: CCR report

[JURIST] Prisoners at the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] have been subjected to "systematic physical, psychological, sexual, medical and religious abuse," according to a report [PDF full text; synopsis] released Monday by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website]. CCR describes the 51-page "Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," as the most comprehensive primary-source account of abuse at the facility. The report cites declassified statements from detainees still at Guantanamo and from their lawyers. According to the report, Guantanamo detainees have been:

  • held in solitary confinement for periods exceeding a year;
  • deprived of sleep for days and weeks and, in at least one case, months;
  • exposed to prolonged temperature extremes;
  • beaten;
  • threatened with transfer to a foreign country, for torture;
  • tortured in foreign countries or at U.S. military bases abroad before transfer to Guantanamo;
  • sexually harassed and raped or threatened with rape;
  • deprived of medical treatment for serious conditions, or allowed treatment only on the condition that they "cooperate" with interrogators; and
  • routinely "short-shackled" (wrists and ankles bound together and to the floor) for hours and even days during interrogations.
  • The report concluded that the Bush administration's designation of Guantanamo prisoners as "enemy combatants" allowed the US Department of Defense to avoid not only the guarantees for prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention [text] but also the Army Field Manual's restrictions on interrogation techniques [text].

    The commander of the Guantanamo detention facility said last week that most prisoners no longer face regular questioning [JURIST report]. Also last week, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the US to set a date [JURIST report] for closing Guantanamo. US officials, including President Bush, have said they would like to close the facility [JURIST report] but cannot until they ensure that detainees will not pose a security risk or face torture when returned to their native countries.

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