Guantanamo inmate challenges force-feeding practices by suing U.S. president

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Guantánamo Bay detention camp inmate Emad Hassan has filed a lawsuit Tuesday against U.S. President Barack Obama, named as chief defendant, regarding alleged U.S. military practices in force-feeding prisoners during their hunger strikes.

Hassan is a Yemeni national who was captured in 2002 and has been in the military prison for almost 12 years without charge. He has been on a hunger strike since 2007, and is still held in Guantánamo Bay although approved for a 2009 release.

The techniques used to force feed prisoners on hunger strikes involve methods deemed illegal by a report of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The prisoners' allegations include their captors using water torture techniques and inserting large nose tubes to deliver food. Strapping down and feeding laxatives to detainees, while force-feeding, is also alleged.

The bid is the first of its kind to proceed and follows a decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals last month allowing federal judges to rule on Guantánamo force-feeding cases.

The Department of Defense is responsible for the welfare and security of inmates in the prison according to White House officials. Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden for the White House National Security Council told al-Jazeera: “The Department of Defense has responsibility for the health, welfare and humane treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and I would refer you to them for further questions about the specifics of their policies and procedures”.

President Obama has previously vowed to close Guantanamo Bay.