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United Nations Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ni Aolain urged the United States to issue an apology for the torture of inmates at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison and recommended that the detention facility, located in Cuba, be shut down.

In a report unveiled on Monday, she commended US President Joe Biden’s administration for permitting her access to the facility earlier this year, but underscored the urgent need to address the violations committed against the detainees. Ni Aolain expressed that the torture carried out at covert locations, or “black sites,” and subsequently at Guantanamo has been a substantial obstacle to delivering justice for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Her report pointed out, “The importance of apology and guarantees of non-repetition to both the victims of terrorism and the victims of torture betrayed by these practices will be no less pressing in the years ahead.”

Ni Aolain’s report also raised concerns about the ongoing abuses within the facility. The report highlighted “structural shortcomings and systematic arbitrariness including in training, operating procedures, and the fulfillment of detainees’ rights to health care, family council, and justice.” The report pointed to several dehumanizing practices, such as referring to inmates by a serial number instead of their names, an act Ni Aolain suggested significantly degrades each detainee’s self-worth and dignity. Additionally, she pointed to the overblown surveillance, forced cell extractions, excessive use of restraints, and solitary confinement practices continuing at Guantanamo.

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The Guantanamo facility was launched in 2002 during the tenure of US President George W Bush as a place to incarcerate detainees captured during the “war on terror” following al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks.

Currently, the prison, which once held 800 detainees, houses only 30 inmates, more than half of whom have been deemed eligible for release by US authorities. Situated within a US military base in Cuba, the prison functions under military commissions, a system that does not ensure the same rights as conventional US courts. Human rights organizations have persistently criticized the prison for rights violations, such as forced feedings, physical assault of detainees, and absence of due process, demanding its closure.


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