Human rights experts urge for the closure of Guantanamo

International Federation of Human Rights Repeats Call for Reforming U.S. Detention Policies and Commends Work of U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights, FIDH member organization in the U.S.

Statement comes amidst mounting international criticism of Guantánamo, including recent condemnations by leaders in Britain and Spain.

GENEVA, PARIS, NEW YORK - 8 June 2006 - Today the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) issued a statement welcoming the recommendations of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) and its call to close the Guantánamo Bay prison and end torture, echoing the proposals submitted to the Committee by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York-based human rights organization that represents detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison. FIDH released the following statement:

The FIDH welcomes the United Nations CAT Report’s call for the U.S. to end torture and close the Guantánamo Bay prison and any other secret international detention centers. We share the concerns that the United States’ refusal to completely ban torture in all areas under its de facto control, as required by Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, will continue to allow preventable human rights abuse and torture. We call on the U.S. to join all democratic states in ensuring effective prevention and punishment of acts of torture at all times and under all circumstances through a clear legal framework and proactive mechanisms.

With regard to the Guantánamo Naval Base, FIDH welcomes the call made by the Committee urging the US to close the detention facility and permit access by the detainees to judicial process or release them, in order to ensure that the US complies with its obligations under the Convention. Thereby, the Committee clearly challenges the provision in the Detainee Treatment Act which entered into force early 2006 stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over Guantánamo detainees as being contrary to the Convention.

The UN Committee also specified that all persons detained in any territory under its jurisdiction must be registered, in order to prevent acts of torture including the crime of enforced disappearance.

Finally, the State Party has failed to comply with its obligation to promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate all allegations of acts of torture or cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and bring perpetrators to justice, both for acts which were perpetrated within and outside the US territory.

To that end, the FIDH particularly commends the work of the Center for Constitutional Rights in trying to represent detainees and advocate for due process and human treatment, and the FIDH will continue to work with that organization to advance due process, human rights and the closing of Guantánamo. As an illustration of joint work undertaken so far, FIDH would like to recall that on 26 February 2006, Wolfgang Kaleck (Republican Attorneys’ Association), CCR, FIDH and Lawyers Against the War sent a petition to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, on behalf of Iraqi citizens victims of torture, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, to question the dismissal of a complaint filed before the German Federal Prosecutor following strong pressure by the United States administration.

In summary, FIDH calls on the US authorities to implement all recommendations issued by the Committee in order to ensure a real and tangible improvement in the fight against all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment in the US and all areas under its de facto effective control.

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