The Legacy of Guantanamo Bay

Cuba leased the southern portion of Guantanamo Bay to the US on February 23, 1903, as part of the Cuban-American Treaty that allowed the US military to construct a permanent naval base on the site. The base has been in regular use since its establishment, and is a source of consistent tension between the US and Cuban governments. The facilities at Guantanamo Bay have taken on special significance since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The base hosts detention facilities used to incarcerate individuals suspected of terrorist activity that were captured by the US military during the War on Terror, which has been a source of both domestic and international concern.

The legal status of Guantanamo detainees is hotly contested -- as is the prisoners' lack of access to US legal rights such as habeas corpus, due process and a speedy trial. In addition, allegations of the mistreatment and torture of detainees by US military officials have also surfaced. Critics of the detention center accuse the US of violating both international law and conflicting with traditional prisoners' rights. The potential violation of prisoners' rights was the source of controversy in 2013, when a number of detainees declared a hunger strike and were subsequently force-fed via feeding tube. The use of force-feeding on striking detainees was later the subject of litigation in US federal courts, which generally dismissed the suits. While attempts to close the facility have been unsuccessful, recent years have seen an increase in the number of detainees transferred out of the facility, and US President Barack Obama hopes to close the camp by the end of 2014.

 

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