World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Independent experts issue report on Guantanamo

Commission on Human Rights: independent experts issue report on Guantanamo detainees

Five independent human rights experts with mandates from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights today called on the United States to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre and either bring all detainees to trial or release them without further delay, according to a joint report released today in Geneva.

“Terrorism suspects should be detained in accordance with criminal procedure that respects the safeguards enshrined in relevant international law,” the five experts – specializing in issues related to arbitrary detention, freedom of religion, the right to health, torture and the independence of judges and lawyers – said in a press statement issued in conjunction with the release of the report.

In New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed, in response to questions from the press, that the authors of the report gathered their own information, did their own analysis and made their own conclusions, and that he could not agree with everything in such a lengthy report.

“But the basic point that one cannot detain individuals in perpetuity and that charges have to be brought against them and be given a chance to explain themselves and prosecute a charge or release them I think is common under any legal system,” Mr. Annan said.

“I think sooner or later there will be a need to close Guantanamo and it will be up to the Government to decide and I hope they will do it as soon as possible,” he added.

Reiterating his general position on the issue, he said: “The basic premise that we need to be careful to have a balance between effective action against terrorism and individual liberties and civil rights I think is valid.”

Earlier, Mr. Annan’s spokesman underscored the independence of the experts, officially known as Rapporteurs, and that it would be would be now up to the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights to decide on the next steps. The report will be taken up by the 53-member body at its next session, which is scheduled to start on 13 March.

In releasing the report, the experts expressed “utmost concern” over attempts by the US to redefine torture in the framework of the struggle against terrorism. “The interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defence, particularly if used simultaneously, amount to degrading treatment,” their statement said.

Their conclusions followed a six-month study based on information from the US Government, interviews conducted with former Guantánamo detainees currently residing or detained in France, Spain and the United Kingdom and responses from lawyers acting on behalf of some current detainees. They also relied on information available in the public domain, including in declassified official US documents.

The experts voiced regret that the Government did not allow them the opportunity to have free access to detainees in Guantánamo Bay and carry out private interviews, as provided by the terms of reference accepted by all countries they visit. For that reason, in November 2005, they declined a US invitation to visit the centre, they said.

The five experts, who serve the Commission in an unpaid, personal capacity, are: Chairman Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Leila Zerrougui; Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news