US dismisses UN call to close Guantanamo Bay prison camp

[JURIST] The United States has dismissed as a "discredit to the UN" a report [PDF text; press release] released Thursday by UN special rapporteurs making up the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Commission on Human Rights [official website] calling on the US to immediately close its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], saying that UN investigators did not fully examine the facts. The report, a draft of which was leaked [JURIST report] earlier this week, also recommended that those indefinitely held at Guantanamo Bay be either released or put on trial, and called on American authorities to refrain from any practices that "amount to torture."

Addressing the UN report in a press briefing Thursday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said [press briefing transcript]:

First of all, the UN team that was looking into this issue did not even visit Guantanamo Bay. They did not go down and see the facilities. They were offered the same kind of access that congressional leaders, who are responsible for oversight of these matters, have been provided. Yet, they declined to go down there.

I think that what we are seeing is a rehash of allegations that have been made by lawyers representing some of these detainees. We know that these are dangerous terrorists that are being kept at Guantanamo Bay. They are people that are determined to harm innocent civilians, or harm innocent Americans. They were enemy combatants picked up on the battlefield in the war on terrorism. They are trained to provide false information. And al Qaeda training manuals talk about ways to disseminate false information and hope to get attention.

But the International Committee for the Red Cross has been provided full access to the detainees. The military treats detainees humanely, as directed by the President of the United States. And the United Nations should be making serious investigations across the world, and there are many instances when they do, when it comes to human rights. This was not one of them. And I think it's a discredit to the UN when a team like this goes about rushing to report something when they haven't even looked into the facts. All they have done is look at the allegations.
The UN rights experts refused an invitation to observe conditions at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report] last year because the Pentagon refused to allow them interviews with detainees [JURIST report]. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.


 

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