UN: Gitmo Detention Regime ‘Clear Breach of International Law’


A press release from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged all branches of the United States Government to work together to close the Guantanamo detention centre, saying “the continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees amounts to arbitrary detention and is in clear breach of international law.”

“I am deeply disappointed that the US Government has not been able to close Guantanamo Bay, despite repeatedly committing itself to do so,” Pillay said. “Allegedly, around half of the 166 detainees still being held in detention have been cleared for transfer to either home countries or third countries for resettlement. Yet they remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay. Others reportedly have been designated for further indefinite detention. Some of them have been festering in this detention centre for more than a decade. This raises serious concerns under international law. It severely undermines the United States’ stance that it is an upholder of human rights, and weakens its position when addressing human rights violations elsewhere.”

Commenting on the current hunger strike by Guantanamo detainees, Pillay said that “a hunger strike is a desperate act, and one which brings a clear risk of people doing serious lasting harm to themselves. I always urge people to think of alternative, less dangerous, ways to protest about their situation. But given the uncertainty and anxieties surrounding their prolonged and apparently indefinite detention in Guantanamo, it is scarcely surprising that people’s frustrations boil over and they resort to such desperate measures.”

Pillay noted that four years ago she warmly welcomed President Obama’s announcement immediately after his inauguration that he was placing a high priority on closing Guantanamo and setting in motion a system to safeguard the fundamental rights of the detainees. She welcomed a White House spokesman’s reiteration of this commitment last week (27 March), citing Congressional legislation as the prime obstacle.

“Nevertheless, this systemic abuse of individuals’ human rights continues year after year,” she said. “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. When other countries breach these standards, the US – quite rightly – strongly criticizes them for it.”

The Obama administration’s response to such sweeping criticisms of their indefinite detention policies has largely been to ignore them. ‘What? We’re criminals? Oh, hush up.’

For two of the best write-ups of this Gitmo hunger strike, see Carol Rosenberg at theMiami Herald and Antiwar.com’s own Kelley Vlahos.

(h/t Kevin Gosztola)

25 thoughts on “UN: Gitmo Detention Regime ‘Clear Breach of International Law’”

  1. And just for fun USA clearly disregarding, disrespecting the international laws blaming it on the other guy.., saying.., this or that law will not apply to USA because USA have its own laws about how not to respect the human rights laws. The scary part of the matter is.., Israel been doing it for last 60 years and US following the idea. More scary part of it is that president got the noble peace prize…, which in reality should be called " not so noble peace prize" .

  2. Theoretically the UN could call a vote of the General Assembly and have the US thrown out of the UN for grtave breaches of the UN Charter, that alone would mean it has no UN security council vote and as such could be subjected to Full UN srcurity council sanctions like those that are foisted on Iran and other such countries> Of course it isnt going to happen but at least in theory it could!

    Personally a change to the security council by taking the veto of the five permanent members and leaving it up to a real democratic vote or having over ride provisions allowing the General council to override vetos by a full vote would improve all UN matters no end! Remember that the toothless ness of the UN is as much a problem because of US vetoes as any of the other four!

  3. The big question here , "who will prosecute the US for crimes against humanity?"

  4. The whole thing kinda begs the question: "If they've been cleared for release and they're not guilty, what's the motivation to keep them"? The obvious answer that pops into mind is that waterboarding isn't the worst thing that happened to them. The rationale to keep them 'incommunicado' can only be that they have a story to tell and we'd rather they didn't.

    1. The motivation? The old white men in Congress have made no bones over the years about why they can't allow these innocent men go…ever. If they were ever a danger, imagine the anger after being "detained" for a decade for the crime of being a Muslim. These ethnophobic old men in Congress have also made it clear that as far as "human rights" are concerned, the United States is an "exceptional" country…get that? Exceptional…meaning we are allowed an exception from International laws that we apply to other countries.

      The reason GITMO is still open is because the US Congress is afraid of the monster they've created. Besides, who wants to be the Republican Senator who goes on record as voting to release all those evil men? The "Base" who have been taught to be afraid would make them pay at the polls.

  5. Though signatory to the many humanitarian conventions and treaties, Both the United States and Russia are and have been in breach of Geneva Conventions and other of international law in Afghanistan. Russia killed two-million Afghans from 1979-89 and turned the country to rubble. The US/NATO force seems destined to repeat this tragic history with their drone strikes, high-altitude aerial assault, night raids and Guantanamo. But as history affords, there will be a long wait for those whom embrace and respect international law and through this medium seek justice.

  6. NEW LAW
    Anyone who has been incarcerated at Guantanamo Prison and found to be innocent shall receive:

    (1) U.S. citizenship with a lifetime passport.

    (2) Lifetime pension and healthcare equal to that of a U.S. Senator.

    (3) Three bedroom home on 5 acres, free of all real estate taxes for life.

    (4) Lifetime free of all state and federal income taxes.

    (5) Fly for free to anyplace on earth.

    (6) A yearly banquet at the White House.

  7. It took them about 10 years to figure that out?

    I hope they are handing out cyanide pills at the UN to remove useless bodies.

  8. How many divisions does the UN have? Oh, that's right, none but what they've borrowed from other nations. This will unfortunately amount to nothing.

  9.  "It severely undermines the United States’ stance that it is an upholder of human rights….."
    Hee hee

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