UN rights chief calls for Guantanamo prison closure

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday called for [press release] US authorities to close down the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prison camp, emphasizing the continued indefinite incarcerations of many detainees as a clear violation of international law. Of the 166 detainees in Guantanamo, about half have been cleared for transfer [Reuters report], either to home countries or third countries for resettlement, while only nine of them have actually been charged or convicted of crimes. Pillay stressed that those who have been cleared for release must be released immediately, claiming the US government's continued detention of these individuals is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [PDF]. The High Commissioner also expressed concern about the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 [text], which she says has created obstacles for the closure of Guantanamo as well as for the trials of detainees in civilian courts.

Last month the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] and defense lawyers for detainees held in the prison camp sent a letter [JURIST report] to Rear Admiral John Smith Jr. [official profile] describing the harsh conditions faced by the detainees and indicated that the detainees have begun to protest the conditions, including participating in a hunger strike [JURIST report]. In February lawyers for the US Navy contended [JURIST report] that surveillance equipment deployed throughout the Guantanamo Bay detention center was not used to breach attorney-client privilege. Earlier in the month a military judge ordered the removal [JURIST report] of any monitoring system that censors the public broadcast of the hearings. In September a federal judge rejected [JURIST report] new restrictions on the ability of lawyers representing detainees who have had their habeas corpus challenges denied or dismissed to access their clients. In February 2012 the chief US military tribunal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the content of attorney-client mail inspected at the Guantanamo Bay prison is confidential and may not be released.

 

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