Human rights NGO Reprieve has welcomed the US Department of Defense’s decision, announced today, to drop proceedings against a military nurse who refused to carry out force-feedings at Guantanamo Bay.
In July last year, information received by Reprieve lawyers from one of their clients held at Guantanamo revealed that one military medical professional had refused to carry out force-feedings on prisoners engaged in a peaceful hunger strike. The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg subsequently obtained confirmation from the DoD that a medical provider had been unwilling to carry out the procedure, and as a result had been reassigned.
Since then, it emerged that the DoD was considering action against the nurse — which today has been dropped.
Involuntary force-feeding has been criticized as unethical and inhuman by medical organizations including the American Medical Association (AMA), and other bodies including the UN.
Lawyers at Reprieve are continuing to fight for the release of video tapes of force-feedings which are held by the US Government. Last Friday (May 8) saw a hearing in a US appeal court at which the Obama administration argued that the public had no right to see the tapes, and the court no ability to challenge that decision. A judgement in the case is pending.
Commenting on the DoD’s decision to drop proceedings against the nurse, Reprieve attorney Cori Crider said: “Better late than never, DoD has rightly dropped its case against the nurse who decided he could not ethically force-feed Guantanamo detainees. It took enormous courage for him to swim against the tide. And as someone who has watched the force-feeding videos, I am certain he did the right thing. If the tapes are ever made public, the American people will watch in horror at what we have asked this man, and many other young servicemen and women, to do.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to GuantÃ¡namo Bay.