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Guantanamo detainee: conditions have declined under Obama administration

[JURIST] A letter [text, PDF] from a Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee, made public Monday, alleges that conditions at the prison have worsened for detainees a year after the election of US President Barack Obama [official website]. Abdul Rahman Shalabi wrote the letter [Al Jazeera report] in September, describing his declining physical condition. Last week, independent medical experts Dr. Sondra Crosby and Dr. Emily A. Keram [reports, PDF], submitted declarations to the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] regarding Shalabi's health. Both doctors confirmed that the detainee is in need of immediate medical assistance. Shalabi wrote:

I am Sick, I am Sick, what should I do, the pain is severe, and headache is severe, my nose is having inflammation, so what should I do. I am in the hospital, if the doctor is unable to make a decision or manage the hospital, so who can do that. There are provocations, and harassment that continue day and night. ... Note: Last time they measured my weight, it was (108) pounds. My weight has dropped from sadness and provocations, daily humiliations and harassments [sic] and the sickness.

Despite promises from the Obama administration that conditions at the prison would improve, several detainees expressed similar complaints to Shalabi. Detainees claim that they have been denied social time, had their belongings taken away, and have even been prevented from taking part in traditional group prayer during Ramadan without justification. Authorities at the facility have denied any allegations of wrong-doing.

This is not first report regarding the lack of improvement in conditions for the detainees. In April, Mohammad El Gharani accused [JURIST report] guards of abuse. El Gharani said the guards regularly beat him, used tear gas against him, and have broken his teeth. In February, US the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] reported [JURIST report] that conditions at the prison met the requirements of the Geneva Conventions. The report did indicate that there were areas where conditions should improve, including increasing detainee-to-detainee contact, better training for guards, easier detainee access to health care services, and video recording of interrogations. In January, Obama issued an executive order [JURIST report] directing that the prison be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order," but senior officials have recently indicated that the deadline may be missed [JURIST report].

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