Press Release

IACHR Expresses Deep Concern over New Revelations about Guantanamo

April 29, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the recently published information contained in official documents of the United States concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment carried out against detainees at the Guantánamo Naval Base. These documents confirm information the Inter-American Commission has been receiving since 2002, based on which it has granted precautionary measures for Guantánamo detainees and urged the State to close the detention facility without delay, among other steps it has taken within the framework of its jurisdiction.

According to recently divulged information, the Guantánamo detainees reportedly included at least one minor, one person with a mental disability, and another suffering from senile dementia. In addition, the documents that were published indicate that the United States had reportedly held a significant number of individuals in custody at Guantánamo without there being sufficient grounds to justify their continued deprivation of liberty, and in some of these cases the purpose was reportedly to obtain intelligence information. The documents also describe the application of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment as part of interrogations.

The IACHR on various occasions has called for the Guantánamo detention facility to be closed and for the reports of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment to be investigated. On March 12, 2002, approximately two months after the United States began to transfer detainees to its base at Guantánamo, the IACHR granted them precautionary measures asked the government to adopt the necessary urgent measures so that a competent court could determine the legal status of the Guantánamo Bay detainees. On October 28, 2005, the Commission expanded the precautionary measures and asked the United States to conduct an in-depth and impartial investigation into all instances of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and to prosecute and punish those responsible. In addition, on July 28, 2006, the IACHR approved its Resolution No. 2/06, urging the United States to close the Guantánamo detention facility without delay, transfer the detainees in full compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and to take the necessary measures to ensure detainees a fair and transparent judicial process before a competent, independent, and impartial decision-maker.

In addition, in 2007 the Commission requested authorization to carry out a visit to the Guantánamo Naval Base to monitor detention conditions. The government of the United States agreed, on the condition that the delegation could not communicate with the detainees. The IACHR declined to carry out the visit under such a limitation.

The Inter-American Commission again urges the State to close this detention facility without delay and to investigate, prosecute, and punish any instance of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment that may have occurred. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation of the detainees at Guantánamo until the detention facility is closed once and for all and the detainees’ legal status is determined.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 37/11