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Guantánamo: UN report call for closure should be acted on

Responding to the publication today of a United Nations report on the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Amnesty International echoed the UN’s call for the camp to be closed down.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said:

“After four years Guantánamo has become a byword for abuse and an indictment of the US government’s failure to uphold human rights in the ‘war on terror’.

“Guantánamo is unreformable. The US authorities should immediately close down the camp and either release prisoners or bring them before proper courts on the US mainland.

“Meanwhile, the ongoing hunger strike is an urgent concern and while a decision over the future of Guantánamo is taken the US authorities should immediately allow independent doctors to visit prisoners.

“There should also be meaningful access for Amnesty International and other bodies like the United Nations.”

Numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment have also emerged from the camp and last week Amnesty international published a report on the often devastating impact on both inmates and their relatives around the world.

Though there are no UK nationals currently held at Guantánamo there are believed to be eight long-term residents of the UK imprisoned, many of whom have relatives also in the UK. These include people recognised as refugees by the UK authorities, people such as Omar Deghayes, a 35-year-old Libyan national, held at Guantánamo for over three years.

His family fled political persecution in Libya 25 years ago and was granted refugee protection in Britain. Omar, who grew up in Brighton, has told his lawyer that he has been attacked by US guards at Guantánamo, including an occasion when guards forced a finger into his eye leaving him blind in one eye.

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