“Twenty years of arbitrary detentions without trial, accompanied by torture or ill-treatment are simply unacceptable for any government, especially a government that claims the protection of human rights,” said in a statement the dozen independent experts mandated by the UN but who do not speak on its behalf.
The prison at the US naval base in southeastern Cuba, which received its first detainees twenty years ago to the day, on January 10, 2002, is “a legal black hole”, a “stain” on the United States commitment to the rule of law, they said.
Pointing out the importance for the United States, a new member of the UN Human Rights Council, of “closing this hideous chapter of relentless human rights violations”, the working groups called for the repatriation of the detainees or to send them to safe third countries and to measures of reparation for the torture and arbitrary detentions suffered.
They also underlined that since 2002, nine people had died in detention, seven of presumed suicide, without any judicial follow-up, also calling for those responsible for torture to be held accountable for their acts in court.
Some 780 people have been held at the Guantanamo Bay facility, first locked in cages and then in cells in the hastily erected prison on the US military base. Most were released, some after more than 10 years of detention without charge.
There are only 39 detainees left, 13 of whom can be released, although they have yet to find a place to drop off. Fourteen others are hoping for their release, ten have yet to be tried and two have been sentenced.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the US administration “remains committed to the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison.” “We are in the process of examining the way forward,” he told reporters.