United Nations experts on Tuesday congratulated US President Joe Biden’s goal of closing Guantanamo and called on Washington to punish the crimes committed at the iconic prison.
The new tenant of the White House said in mid-February that before the end of his term he wants to close Guantánamo, the military prison located on the island of Cuba and that was created after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Two UN groups, specializing in disappearances and arbitrary detentions, and five independent human rights experts welcomed the announcement, but called on the administration to also address the rights violations suffered by the 40 detainees, which include torture.
“On the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we ask for transparency, understanding and accountability of the operation and the legacy of the prison,” say the experts, who collaborate with the UN but do not speak on behalf of the organization.
They also recall that many of the detainees aged behind bars and are in weak health after years of imprisonment under harsh conditions and having suffered “physical and mental torture.”
“We insist on the need to reject the policies and practices that led to the creation of the prison,” say the experts, “with the aim of preventing the repetition of these practices that violate international law.”
In addition, they defend the importance that the disappeared, tortured and arbitrarily detained have a fair trial and that they receive “the pertinent compensation”.
And they ask the US authorities to promote “impartial and independent investigations” into the violations of rights in Guantánamo.
“Democracies can and must do better and the United States must leave this dark chapter of its history behind,” they add.