International pressure is rapidly building for the United States to shut down its Guantanamo prison camp, which holds some 490 terror suspects. The United Nations on Thursday officially released a 40-page report condemning the camp and calling for its closure. Later on Thursday, the European Parliament is expected to pass a non-binding resolution likewise calling for the US to eliminate the prison camp.
The UN report claimed that some of the practices in the camp, such as placing detainees in solitary confinement, stripping them naked, subjecting them to severe temperatures and threatening them with dogs could amount to torture. "The excessive violence used in many cases during transportation and forced-feeding of detainees on hunger strike must be assessed as amounting to torture," the report read.
One of the five people responsible for the investigation and subsequent report, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak, criticized the US for holding inmates for years without ever filing charges against them. "Those persons either have to be released immediately or they should be brought to a proper and competent court and tried for the offences they are charged with," Nowak told the BBC on Thursday.
Only a small number of the prisoners held at Guantanamo have been charged with a specific crime. The United States suspects those held at the camp, who have been labeled "enemy combatants", of having links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the al-Qaida terror group. Many of those held at Guantanamo were not arrested directly by US soldiers or personnel but were handed over after being arrested by forces in Pakistan and other countries.
The United States has rejected the content of the report and has called the investigation one-sided. US ambassador to the UN offices in Geneva, Kevin Moley, accused the investigators of not having taken into account evidence provided by the US and criticized them for not having accepted an invitation to visit the camp. "It is particularly unfortunate that the special rapporteurs rejected the invitation and that their unedited report does not reflect the direct, personal knowledge that this visit would have provided," Moley wrote in a response attached to the end of the report.
Three UN investigators were invited last year to visit Guantanamo, but they refused after being told that they would not be allowed to interview detainees. Instead, the report's findings are based on interviews with former detainees, publicly available documents, media reports, lawyers and a questionnaire filled out by the US government.
The report comes one day after an Australian television station released additional images of inmate abuse which occurred in 2003 in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.