Guantánamo, Bagram and Illegal U.S. Detentions

The United States’ detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have become emblematic of the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the U.S. Government in the name of fighting terrorism.

At Guantánamo, the U.S. government sought to hold detainees in a place neither U.S. nor international law applied.

But no one can be held outside of the law.

Guantánamo, Bagram and Illegal U.S. Detentions

The United States’ detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have become emblematic of the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the U.S. Government in the name of fighting terrorism.

At Guantánamo, the U.S. government sought to hold detainees in a place neither U.S. nor international law applied.

But no one can be held outside of the law.

Approximately 122 inmates still remain in Guantánamo, some of whom have now been detained for over a decade. These men have been subjected to a wide range of interrogation tactics that constitute ill-treatment, including stress positions, sensory deprivation, prolonged isolation, the use of 20-hour interrogations, hooding during transportation and interrogation, stripping, forcible shaving, and "using detainees individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress."

Incredibly, of those still being held approximately 60 individuals have actually been cleared for release but the United States has either failed to find a safe haven for them or refused to return them to their country of origin. The indefinite and arbitrary nature of the circumstances of their detention has led to a steep decline in the mental and physical health of many incarcerated at Guantánamo. There have been numerous suicide attempts and hunger strikes.

The detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay have also diminished the United States' reputation, providing a magnet for criticism from allies and enemies alike. In the years since Amnesty International has called for closure of the detention facilities, a growing number of high-ranking U.S. officials from both political parties, allied governments, and the United Nations have issued calls for the prison's closure.

Guantánamo must be closed the right way: detainees must either be promptly charged and given fair trials in U.S. federal courts, or be released.

However, the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay isn't the only prison where the United States is holding detainees from the "war on terror" - detention facilities in Afghanistan are also used to detain those captured by the U.S. military. Most detainees are held unlawfully, without warrant or charge, and with no legal representation to challenge their detention.

Illegal detention at Guantánamo and other U.S. facilities, including those in Afghanistan, must end.

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