US Torture Reportedly Continues at Guantanamo Bay, Despite Ban

According to a UN official, the United States continues to use banned torture methods against detainees at the highly controversial Guantanamo Bay military prison.

Last week UN special rapporteur Nils Melzer urged the U.S. to end what the organization regards as “a pervasive policy of impunity for crimes of torture”. 

While Melzer has not provided sources for this information, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner has given the allegations weight by issuing its own statement on the matter:

“In 2014, a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme publicly acknowledged the systematic use of torture in US custody,” said Nils Melzer.

“To this day, however, the perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse have not been brought to justice, and the victims have received no compensation or rehabilitation.

“By failing to prosecute the crime of torture in CIA custody, the US is in clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world.”

In this circumstance, Melzer alleges that detainee Ammar al-Baluchi, an accused terrorist behind the 9/11 attacks, has faced continued extreme isolation, as well as other forms of alleged psychological abuse. He also notes that “noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against [al-Baluchi], resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention.”

President Barack Obama specifically banned such “enhanced interrogation” methods in 2009 under the ”Ensuring Lawful Interrogations” executive order. While President Obama fell short of his goal to entirely close Guantanamo Bay — due in no small part to a stonewalling Congress — he achieved an important trade-off: tighter restrictions on interrogation methods.

However those restrictions came without oversight into so-called “covert action programs” – a point that Senator Dianne Feinstein previously raised in action proposals on detention and rehabilitation.

Congress has since been preoccupied with other matters, like doggedly attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and passing tax reform. Guantanamo appears to have dropped off the radar — but not for the UN.

Major Ben Sakrisson, a Pentagon spokesman, has flat-out denied allegations of torture, stating, ”These claims have been investigated on multiple occasions in the past and no credible evidence has been found to substantiate his claims.”

Appeals to past investigations do not provide the whole picture, however. Accounts from former detainees have been remarkably uniform in describing their experiences with physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Furthermore, the UN’s repeated requests to make independent assessments of the facility have been denied.

The timing of this statement seems particularly appropriate, given President Trump’s support for putting “bad dudes” in Guantanamo.

In July, Jeff Sessions explained that he believed Guantanamo Bay’s reputation was not deserved, telling Salem Radio Network, ”We’ve spent a lot of money fixing it up. And I’m inclined to the view that it remains a perfectly acceptable place. And I think the fact is that a lot of the criticisms have just been totally exaggerated.” At the time, commentators noted that Sessions appeared to be attempting to rehabilitate the prison’s image.

Last week the AP noted that five men who were cleared to leave Guantanamo under President Obama remain stuck in Guantanamo, and the current administration has yet to make any release decisions.

Given that the Trump administration seems keen on preserving the detention facility, it’s absolutely critical that the UN be allowed to independently verify these reported improvements to conditions. After all, what does the U.S. have to hide?

Photo credit: takomabibelot.

64 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you!

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Jack Y
Jack Y3 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y3 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R5 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming6 months ago

Torture is wrong any where

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 months ago

shut it down.

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Joan E
Joan E6 months ago

Torture IS wrong.

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