While there, they have been subject to many forms of torture, including 24 hour exposure to light, stress positions, sexual abuse, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, beatings and even death. Their crime has been ‘suspected’ involvement in terrorism, as most have never been charged or tried for any crime. To date only six individuals have been tried in military court and sentenced.
“international law prohibits every act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,…including when it is perpetrated or tolerated in the name of protecting civilian populations from the threat, however grave or imminent, of terrorist attack” (Rodley and Pollard 2009: 81).
When Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009 he promised that the prison would be closed by January 2010, and that those detained would either be charged or released. Despite this promise the prison is still open and has approximately 171 detainees.
The conditions at Guantanamo Bay have broken both International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. We as human beings are entitled to the right to a fair trial and not to be arbitrarily detained; under no circumstances can the use of torture ever be justified. Obama needs to fulfil his promise and either charge or release those being detained ‘illegally’! What must happen in order for Obama to ensure he fulfils this promise?
We, as fellow human beings, cannot allow what is occurring there to carry on. Something must be done and should be done now! We can all petition our own Governments for the release of individuals, as a minimum those who despite being cleared for release are still incarcerated there.
It has been over a decade and the feeling of ‘normalisation’ has set in. It almost feels like has that Guantanamo Bay has always been in existence. However, we must never let this happen and allow the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay to continue being used. Even if the US do not recognise their responsibility by claiming that firstly Cuba does not make up part of US territory and secondly that the detainees were not nationals of the US. We can clearly see that the US does have full control over the Naval Base in Cuba and therefore are fully responsible for the treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Shaker Aamer is a British Citizen who has been cleared for release but is still detained at Guantanamo Bay. The British Government must do as much as possible to ensure he is returned to his family. To sign a petition for his release, us the following link: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33133
To learn more and take action to help end the human rights abuses occurring at Guantanamo Bay, there are many organisations you can get involved with. There are a few at the bottom of this article that will provide more information and possible actions you can take.