USA rejects UN Guantanamo report

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Scott McClellan, White House spokesman, dismissed a United Nations report today dealing with the Guantánamo Bay facilities. The UN report said that the United States government should "expeditiously bring all Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial" without further delay, and called upon the U.S. to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

McClellan responded, "These are dangerous terrorists that we're talking about that are there and I think we've talked about that issue before and nothing's changed in terms of our views." McClellan added, "We know that these are dangerous terrorists that are being kept at Guantanamo Bay. They are people that are determined to harm innocent civilians or harm innocent Americans. They were enemy combatants picked up on the battlefield in the war on terrorism."

Three months ago, the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jan Krc, asked that country to give asylum to a group of Guantanamo detainees which would have set them free in Europe. The U.S. request to the Czechs about asylum was "a humanitarian request because we clearly need to place these people somewhere," Krc said.

In a press encounter, Kofi Annan responded to a journalist, he didn't accept all the conclusions of the report but, "Sooner or later there will be a need to close Guantanamo, sooner or later". He said, "I cannot agree with everything in the report, but I did indicate that 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."

The United Nations report is based upon information from the United States Government, interviews conducted by the experts with former Guantanamo Bay detainees currently residing or detained in France, Spain and the United Kingdom. The U.S. government's invitation for UN investigators to visit the prison was turned down because the United States would not allow the UN investigation team to conduct interviews with detainees. The report follows an 18 month study by 5 experts in various areas of human rights.

United Nations report authors

  • Leila Zerrougui, Chairman Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,
  • Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers,
  • Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
  • Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,
  • Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.