Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Rumsfeld says no U.N. access to Guantanamo inmates

Reuters news says that Rumsfeld will limit U.N. access to Guantanamo inmates
Here's part of the article by Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Spurning a request by U.N. human rights investigators, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday the United States will not allow them to meet with detainees at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.

Rumsfeld also told a Pentagon news conference that prisoners at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were staging a hunger strike that began in early August as a successful ploy to attract media attention.

The three U.N. investigators, including one who focuses on torture, said on Monday they would turn down an invitation extended by the Pentagon on Friday to visit Guantanamo unless they were permitted to interview the detainees. The invitation came nearly four years after the visits were first requested.

Rumsfeld said the U.S. government will not change its policy of giving such access to detainees only to the International Committee of the Red Cross, a neutral body that keeps its findings confidential.

"There's got to be a limit to how one does that," Rumsfeld said of providing access to detainees.

"And the ICRC has been doing it for a great many years and has had complete and total access ever since Guantanamo was opened. And so we're not inclined to add (to) the number of people that would be given that extensive access."

The invitations went to Austria's Manfred Nowak, special investigator on torture, Pakistan's Asma Jahangir, who focuses on religious freedom, and Algeria's Leila Zerrougui, who looks into arbitrary detention.


Human rights activists have criticized the United States for the indefinite detention of the roughly 505 detainees held at Guantanamo. Former prisoners have stated they were tortured there, and the ICRC last year accused the U.S. military of using tactics "tantamount to torture" on Guantanamo prisoners. The military has denied torture has occurred.

The U.N. investigators said they proposed a December 6 visit but would go only if permitted to talk to the prisoners.

Zerrougui said on Monday the U.N. investigators had never agreed to visit a place where they would not have full access to all detainees, and asked the United States to provide such access "in the spirit of compromise."

The Pentagon last week granted a long-standing U.N. demand to inspect the controversial detention centre to observe operations and interview U.S. military personnel, but not have direct contact with the prisoners. The U.N. visit is limited to one day - December 6.

It seems to me, from these reports, that the U.S. has a standard lower than China in terms of openness.

1 comment:

IceCreamHeadache said...

The Ice Cream Headache have released a new song protesting the human rights abuses at Guantanamo. Please take a listen and pass it along.