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Guantanamo detainees face increasing isolation: Amnesty

[JURIST] Amnesty International [advocacy website] decried worsening conditions at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] in a report [text; press release] released Thursday, claiming detainees have "suffered harsh treatment throughout their detention, confined to mesh cages or maximum security cells" and that the new facility opened late last year subjects detainees to "even harsher and apparently more permanent conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation." Blaming an upswing in security on last summer's rash of hunger strikes, the report alleges that 80 percent of detainees are held in isolation, including windowless cells, and that restrictions on communication with legal counsel and family members have severely affected detainees' psychological health. The report renews the organization's call for the facility to be closed and detainees to be released or charged and tried under international law norms instead of the current military tribunal system established by the 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA) [PDF text; JURIST news archive]. Provisions of the MCA strip detainees' habeas rights and were upheld [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] in February and the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in the case earlier this week. BBC News has more.

Also this week, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Jakob Kellenberger [official profile] traveled to the US [ICRC press release] for talks with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile], who has supported shutting down the Guantanamo Bay facility [JURIST report]. An ICRC spokesman said the organization is not pressuring the US to close Guantanamo, but talks have included discussion of the legal system in place for detainees and whether there is opportunity to be tried and charged without indefinite detention. Australia's ABC News has more.

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