10 yrs of Guantanamo and no end in sight

Jan 12, 2012, 11:24 IST | Agencies

Despite promises from US President Barack Obama to close the camp some 171 inmates remain imprisoned

Despite promises from US President Barack Obama to close the camp some 171 inmates remain imprisoned

Gitmo, the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reached its 10th anniversary yesterday.

Human rights groups used the occasion to strongly criticise the US for continuing to "illegally" detain inmates at
the center, described by GlobalSecurity.org as America's oldest base overseas and located on the southeast corner of Cuba, in the Oriente Province, about 400 air miles from Miami, Florida.

Beth Brockman of Witness Against Torture wears an orange prison jump
suit with handcuffs as she sits in a cage to protest against the prison.

Amnesty International called their incarceration "an attack on human rights."

To mark a decade since the US began detaining -- and reportedly torturing -- foreign terror suspects, labeled by then-US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as the "the worst of the worst," Gitmo inmates on Tuesday began three days of protests, said a lawyer for the men.

"These peaceful protests are the most eloquent response to the US government's refusal to shutter the prison and its claims that Guantanamo is a normal, state-of-the-art facility," Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York and counsel to some of the detainees, reportedly said.

Before his election to the presidency, Barack Obama pledged to close the facility. But he has since backtracked, signing into law the National Defense Authorisation Act, which according further diminishes any prospect of due process or freedom for the 171 individuals still incarcerated in Guantanamo.

Amnesty International, meantime, published a report timed to coincide with the Gitmo 10-year anniversary, titled 'A decade of Damage to Human Rights.'

In it, Rob Freer, Amnesty International's researcher on the US, said, "Guantanamo has come to symbolise 10 years of a systematic failure by the USA to respect human rights in its response to the 9/11 attacks. The US government disregarded human rights from day one of the Guantanamo detentions. As we move into year 11 in the life of the detention facility, this failure continues."

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