U. N. Demands Closure of Guantanamo Prison

May 22, 2006

On May 19, an anti-torture committee of the United Nations issued a report demanding the closure of the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The report also said the imprisonment of detainees at secret CIA-run prisons was a violation of the 1984 Convention Against Torture, and called for an end to torture by the U.S. and to the illegal practice of transferring prisoners to countries with a history of abuse and torture.

The U.N. panel, made up of nine international experts, said the United States must "cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to judicial process or release them as soon as possible." It also demanded that the U. S. eliminate its brutal interrogation techniques, including sexual humiliation, the use of dogs to induce fear and "water boarding," a practice that involves near-drowning of prisoners.

Currently the U.S. military is arbitrarily holding approximately 500 people in brutal prisons in Guantanamo. According to international law, these detainees should be treated as prisoners-of-war.

But right from the beginning, the Bush administration declared that it would not apply the Geneva convention and other international laws to "terrorists" but rather make its own law. Bush claims that the "war on terrorism" gives him special "executive powers" to declare anyone an "enemy combatant" and then trample his/her rights, as well as the U.S. constitution, underfoot. In fact, Bush administration officials have repeatedly said that the U.S. has the right to torture "terrorist" suspects.

News reports, as well as first-hand testimony by U.S. military personnel, have revealed that much of the torture and abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere goes unreported yet occurs every day. Nobody knows for sure how many prisoners in Guantanamo have suffered from this abuse.

In addition to the 500-plus prisoners at Guantanamo, the U.S. has imprisoned tens of thousands of people since starting its "war on terrorism" - in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and dozens of other countries to which the C.I.A. has secretly kidnapped people in order to torture them. At least 108 people have died in U.S. custody in these prisons in recent years, according to reports.

This fascist, arbitrary imprisonment, brutalizing, torturing and murder shows that U.S. imperialism refuses to be restrained either by international law or the most elementary demands of humanity and democracy. In its "war on terrorism," it asserts that its military might gives it the right to be judge, jury and executioner of the entire human race and to commit any crimes against the people.