Federal judge orders halt in force feeding at Guantanamo Bay

[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Friday ordered [order, PDF] officials in Guantanamo Bay to temporarily suspend forced feedings of a Syrian prisoner kept at the detention facility on Guantanamo Bay. Syrian national Abu Wa'el Dhiab [advocacy website] has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 after being arrested in Pakistan on suspicion to terrorist activity targeting the United States. Currently Dhiab has been on a hunger strike while being detained, prompting guards to practice force feeding measures to ensure good nutrition. The Pentagon, in response to the order, has complied with Kessler's wishes to temporarily halt force feeding measures. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale stated [POLITICO report] in an email "[w]hile the Department follows the law and only applies enteral feeding in order to preserve life, we will, of course, comply with the judge's order here."

Allegations of human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST archive] have been an issue since the first prisoners were detained there in 2002. Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the US [JURIST report] to release 76 detainees who had been cleared for transfer but had not yet been released from Guantanamo. Weeks earlier a Saudi detainee requested release [JURIST report] to the UK to be with his family because of severe physical and mental health issues that his attorneys argued could take a lifetime to treat. In March a Guantanamo detainee launched a lawsuit against the US challenging the practice of force-feeding [JURIST report] prisoners who have attempted to participate in hunger strikes. In February a detainee filed a lawsuit alleging that he should be released [JURIST report] because he was a prisoner of war from the US mission in Afghanistan, and accordingly should be released since the US is withdrawing from the country. This lawsuit came weeks after US President Barack Obama [official website] renewed a push to have the detention center closed [JURIST report] this year, stating that it would be appropriate given the ending of the conflict in Afghanistan and would set an example by remaining true to democratic and constitutional values. Obama had originally pledged to close the detention center five years ago.

 

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