UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has scolded the US for failing to close Guantanamo prison, warning it “has become an ideal recruitment tool for terrorists.” Pillay also cautioned that curtailing freedoms to fight terror will only worsen the problem.
Speaking at the opening of the spring session of the UN’s Human
Rights Council, Pillay accused the Obama administration of human
rights violations, pointing to the infamous Guantanamo Bay
detention center in Cuba as an “example of the struggle against
terrorism failing to uphold human rights, among them the right to a
fair trial,” Reuters reports.
A reported 103 inmates are participating in the ongoing hunger
strike at Guantanamo, 30 of whom are still being force-fed, Lt.
Col. Samuel House told RT. Force-feeding is an extremely invasive
and highly controversial practice, which many human rights
activists — and the UN — consider to torture.
According to Kuwaiti-born detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, the nasal
tubes used for force-feeding are large, painful and have hazardous
side effects: “It takes several attempts to get the tube into
the right place,” his lawyer Carlos Warner told RT. “Once it
goes down his throat he has a difficult time breathing. There’s a
Witnesses have claimed that Guantanamo guards used sexual
assault as an interrogation technique to extract information from
“The torture and information extraction methods that we used
certainly created a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to
whether or not this was my America,” Terry Holdbrooks, a former
guard at the camp said in an interview with RT.
There have also been incidents where guards used force
unprovoked against detainees. Ramzi Kassem, the lawyer for Moath al
Alawi, said that guards shot five rubber bullets at his client for
no discernible reason.
Many of the 166 detainees have been held for more than a decade
without charge, and their continued detention amounted to
“arbitrary detention in breach of international law,” Pillay
said, reiterating her earlier accusations against the Obama
“We must be clear about this: The United States is in clear
breach not just of its own commitments but also of international
laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold,” she said in
US President Barack Obama vowed to close Guantanamo in 2009, at the
outset of his first term in office. However, he was blocked from
fulfilling that promise by legislation passed by the US Congress.
However, in a speech on May 23 this year Obama indicated his
willingness to resume prisoner transfers from Guantanamo Bay, but
offered few details on the planned changes and when they would be
In his speech, Obama urged lawmakers in Washington to enact his
proposals immediately: “I have tried to close GTMO. I
transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress imposed
restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring
detainees to other countries, or imprisoning them in the United
States. These restrictions make no sense.”
The military prison at Guantanamo Bay was opened by the
administration of former President George W. Bush following the
September 11, 2011, terror attacks in the US. It eventually emerged
that measures designed to tighten security at the prison led to
abuses of power and human rights violations.
Concerns about the effectiveness of current counter-terror policies
were raised in the past week after attacks against soldiers in
London and Paris — the London slaying of 25-year-old Lee Rigby by
two men was apparently in retaliation for UK military involvement
in Muslim countries.
UN human rights chief Pillay likewise warned against excessive
“counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations,”
saying that she had received allegations of “very grave
violations of human rights… Such practices are self-defeating.
Measures that violate human rights do not uproot terrorism, they
Her statement comes amid mounting calls in both France and the UK
to toughen anti-terror measures following recent attacks in both
capitals. In London, an off-duty soldier was killed and beheaded by
two men, and an off-duty soldier in Paris was stabbed in a separate
attack. Pillay did not refer to either case in her remarks.
Following the Woolwich murder, debates over the bill widely
known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ has reappeared in the UK along
with calls for tighter controls on extremist groups.
UK Home Secretary Theresa May said on Sunday that it was
“essential” to grant intelligence agencies the capacity to
access communications and data collections by Internet service
providers, including details of individuals’ web browsing history,
social media messages and internet gaming, storing them all for 12
months, despite overwhelming opposition to the Draft Communications
However, such practices implemented in the US failed to secure the
country from acts of terrorism.
Not only being ineffective, they also cost the US budget over $700
billion since 9/11. This, however, did not help to prevent the
Boston Marathon bombing.
“I believe this was a massive failure of the surveillance state
that we’ve created in America,” American lawyer Jesselyn Radack
told RT. “Since 9/11 we spent over $700 billion on national
security and a lot of that is surveillance with video cameras, with
massive data collection, with fusion centers, and none of those
helped to deter or detect any terrorist plot. And while the
surveillance video was useful in reconstructing what happened it
didn’t prevent it.”
This article originally appeared on: RT