Tuesday 14 February 2006, 4:37 Makka Time, 1:37 GMT
The US says no torture occurs at Guantanamo
An investigation into the prison at Guantanamo Bay says the US committed acts amounting to torture, including force-feeding and prolonged periods of solitary confinement. The report by five human rights experts from the UN accused the US of violating the detainees’ rights to a fair trial, to freedom of religion and to health. It recommended that the US close the detention centre and revoke all special interrogation techniques authorised by the US Department of Defence. The draft report said: "The apparent attempts by the US administration to reinterpret certain interrogation techniques as not reaching the threshold of torture in the framework of the struggle against terrorism are of utmost concern." US officials rejected the report, saying it was riddled with errors and treated statements from detainees’ lawyers as fact. Its most significant flaw, officials said, was that it judged US treatment of detainees according to peace-time human rights laws.
US position —The US contends that it is in a state of conflict and should be judged according to the laws of warAn official from the US State Department said: "Once you fail to even acknowledge that as the legal basis for what we’re doing, much of the legal analysis that follows just doesn’t hold."The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the US has not formulated an official public response. The draft report was delivered to the US on 16 January. It was first disclosed late on Sunday by the Los Angeles Times, and a copy was obtained by journalists. The five experts have mandates that cover torture, freedom of religion, health, independent judiciary and arbitrary detention. They started working together in June 2004 to monitor conditions at Guantanamo Bay.
Important UN group
They were appointed to their three-year terms by the 53-nation UN Human Rights Commission, the global body’s rights watchdog.The US holds about 500 people on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban government at the base in Guantanamo. It has filed charges against 10 detainees. The draft report, which will be presented to the next session of the commission, dismissed the US claim that the "war on terror" constitutes an armed conflict. It also said the detainees at Guantanamo Bay had a right to challenge their detention, and that right was being violated.
The five experts had sought invitations from the United States to visit Guantanamo Bay since 2002. When it was offered last year, they turned it down because they were told they would not be allowed to interview detainees.
On Monday, US officials faulted the experts for rejecting the invitation, saying it undermined the accuracy of their findings. (Ajazeera.Net)