NATIONAL NEWS

First UN investigator at US detention center at Guantanamo says detainees face cruel treatment

Jun 26, 2023, 1:37 PM | Updated: 2:04 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The first U.N. independent investigator to visit the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay said Monday the 30 men held there are subject “to ongoing cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law.”

The investigator, Irish law professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, said at a news conference launching her 23-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council that the 2001 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that killed nearly 3,000 people were “crimes against humanity.” But she said the U.S. use of torture and rendition against alleged perpetrators and their associates in the years right after the attacks violated international human rights law.

Ní Aoláin said her visit marked the first time a U.S, administration has allowed a U.N. investigator to visit the facility, which opened in 2002.

She praised the Biden administration for leading by example by opening up Guantanamo and “being prepared to address the hardest human rights issues,” and urged other countries that have barred U.N. access to detention facilities to follow suit. And she said she was given access to everything she asked for, including holding meetings at the facility in Cuba with “high value” and “non-high value” detainees.

The United States said in a submission to the Human Rights Council on the report’s findings that the special investigator’s findings “are solely her own” and “the United States disagrees in significant respects with many factual and legal assertions” in her report.

Ní Aoláin said “significant improvements” have been made to the confinement of detainees, but expressed “serious concerns about the continued detention of 30 men, who she said face severe insecurity, suffering and anxiety. She cited examples including near constant surveillance, forced removal from their cells and unjust use of restraints.

“I observed that after two decades of custody, the suffering of those detained is profound, and it’s ongoing,” the U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism said. “Every single detainee I met with lives with the unrelenting harms that follow from systematic practices of rendition, torture and arbitrary detention. ”

Ní Aoláin, concurrently a professor at the University of Minnesota and at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said that for many detainees the line between past and present “is exceptionally thin” and for some “it’s simply nonexistent” because “their past experiences of torture live with them in the present without any obvious end in sight, including because they have not received any adequate torture rehabilitation to date.”

She made a long series of recommendations and said the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed.

The U.S. response, submitted by the American ambassador to the Human Rights Council, Michele Taylor, said Ní Aoláin was the first U.N. special rapporteur to visit Guantanamo and had been given “unprecedented access” with “the confidence that the conditions of confinement at Guantanamo Bay are humane and reflect the United States’ respect for and protection of human rights for all who are within our custody.”

“Detainees live communally and prepare meals together; receive specialized medical and psychiatric care; are given full access to legal counsel; and communicate regularly with family members,” the U.S. statement said.

“We are nonetheless carefully reviewing the (special rapporteur’s) recommendations and will take any appropriate actions, as warranted,” it said.

The United States said the Biden administration has made “significant progress” toward closing Guantanamo, it is looking to find suitable locations for the remaining detainees eligible for transfer.

“For those few not yet eligible for transfer, we conduct periodic reviews to determine whether continued detention under the law of war is warranted,” it said, while proceedings for detainees subject to criminal prosecutions continue in military commissions.

National News

Associated Press

The UN condemns increasing gang violence and criminal activity in Haiti that is undermining peace

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms” the increasing gang violence and criminal activity in Haiti that is undermining peace, stability and security in the country and the region. Friday’s resolution expresses grave concern at illegal arms and ammunition flowing into Haiti and their link […]

4 hours ago

Actor Alec Baldwin reacts during his trial for involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 fatal shooting...

Associated Press

Inside the courtroom as case dismissed against Alec Baldwin in fatal shooting of cinematographer

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A nearly three-year legal saga for Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer ended Friday without a verdict but with tears of relief for the actor and a small coterie of family who had settled into a somber daily routine on wooden benches inside a windowless New Mexico […]

4 hours ago

FILE - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens to a speech during the opening of the High-L...

Associated Press

UN chief urges funds for Palestinians, saying Israel is forcing Gazans ‘to move like human pinballs’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations chief appealed for funding Friday for the beleaguered U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East, accusing Israel of issuing evacuation orders that force Palestinians “to move like human pinballs across a landscape of destruction and death.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a donor’s […]

5 hours ago

Meals on Wheels employees take advantage of an assembly line to prepare bags of food for clients, F...

Associated Press

Houston community groups strain to keep feeding and cooling a city battered by repeat storms

HOUSTON (AP) — The deafening hum of a generator was a welcome noise Thursday evening at a Houston independent living center where several dozen seniors had lost power in the wake of Hurricane Beryl. Joe and Terri Hackl, who had pulled up with the backup electricity source after delivering hundreds of meals all day, estimate […]

6 hours ago

Twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner pose for a photograph in front of their business, Fee-Fo-Lay Café, ...

Associated Press

Historically Black Cancer Alley town splits over a planned grain terminal in Louisiana

WALLACE, La. (AP) — Sisters Jo and Dr. Joy Banner live just miles from where their ancestors were enslaved more than 200 years ago in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. Their tidy Creole cottage cafe in the small, river-front town of Wallace lies yards away from property their great-grandparents bought more than a century […]

6 hours ago

Jake Schneider talks about the Republican National Convention coming to Milwaukee next to the bronz...

Associated Press

Deeply Democratic Milwaukee wrestles with hosting Trump, Republican National Convention

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee loves its Miller Beer, Brewers baseball and “ Bronze Fonz ” statue. The deepest blue city in swing state Wisconsin, Milwaukee also loves Democrats. So it can be hard for some to swallow that Milwaukee is playing host to former President Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention next week while […]

6 hours ago

First UN investigator at US detention center at Guantanamo says detainees face cruel treatment