ACLU Calls for Immediate Government Action at Guantánamo Bay

February 17, 2006 12:00 am

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United States Given Another Opportunity to Accept Accountability

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today lauded the United Nations report on the detainees at Guantánamo Bay as a significant step toward urging U.S. compliance with international law. The ACLU called for the administration to heed the recommendations in the UN report and immediately charge and try the detainees or release them.

“Torture at Guantánamo and elsewhere is yet another example of a presidency that abuses its power and acts as if it is above the law,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “At the same time the Administration talks about spreading freedom and democracy, the White House is abusing prisoners around the world and spying on innocent Americans without a warrant.”

The UN report outlines several ways in which U.S. actions at Guantánamo Bay clearly fall into the realm of torture. The report stresses the need for independent monitoring at the prison to assure all nations that conditions are within acceptable human rights standards. Additionally, the report stresses that there is little to no proof detainees are actually enemy combatants and that, contrary to current use, military prisons are for confinement purposes only and not for use as interrogation facilities.

The UN report was made public just as Australian television was airing new images of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The ACLU has consistently encouraged the government to approach domestic and international affairs within the confines of the Constitution and to adhere to international law. The ACLU is seeking the release of a large collection of photos and documentation of abuse in U.S. controlled detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Also in ongoing ACLU litigation, the government has been asked to turn over records detailing the reason why many U.S. citizens and peaceful groups are being spied upon by the government and kept on terrorist watchlists.

“If the U.S. refuses to comply with the universal human rights principles, what reason do other nations have to comply?” said Jamil Dakwar, Staff Attorney in the ACLU’s Human Right Working Group. “Torture is counter productive and the indefinite detention of prisoners without trial does not make America safer.”

In efforts to keep America safe and free, the ACLU is engaged in a wide range of legal, legislative and organizing efforts to end torture and arbitrary detention at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere, and to stop unlawful spying by the National Security Agency, the FBI, and the Pentagon.

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