Shocking UN Report: Guantanamo violates International law, may be crimes against humanity

On Monday, the UN's special rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, an Irish human rights lawyer, published a 23-page report about her recent visit to the United States' detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Ní Aoláin's trip marks the first time that an independent human rights investigator has been allowed to visit the prison. During the four days she spent there, Ní Aoláin spoke with the roughly 30 detainees who remain at the prison — half of whom, it's worth noting, have been cleared for transfer to other nations or facilities by the Periodic Review Board that oversees the detention center, yet are still forced to live there in cages.

Ní Aoláin's broad takeaway from her visit? That the practices at Guantanamo Bay constitute, at minimum, "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law," and that the experience of some detainees "may constitute crimes against humanity."

The report also recommends that US "make full reparation for the injuries caused."

None of the former detainees have been compensated by the U.S. Government for the systematic crimes of extraordinary rendition, torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and arbitrary detention. The SR reiterates that any violation of international law obligations gives rise to an obligation to make reparation, and that there is no statute of limitations for gross and systematic violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law. The U.S. Government must ensure accountability for all violations of international law, for both victims of the counter-terrorism practices of extraordinary rendition, arbitrary detention, and systematic torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, and victims of terrorism.

If you don't have time to read the full report, Reign of Terror author Spencer Ackerman has a great breakdown over at his always-excellent Forever Wars newsletter:

Guantanamo is a cover-up, Ní Aoláin writes between the lines. Consistent with her earlier reports, she suspects that "the continued internment of certain detainees follows from the unwillingness of the authorities to face the consequences of the torture and other ill-treatment to which the detainees were subjected and not from any ongoing threat they are believed to pose." The Periodic Review Board, upon which most detainees' hopes for freedom depends, "lacks the most basic procedural safeguards," vindicating FOREVER WARS' 2021 assessment that the board is bullshit. "[T]he fact that 16 men have been cleared yet remain trapped in the Guantánamo detention facility is indicative of the Periodic Review Board process' disconnect from any actual release and the arbitrariness of the cleared men's ongoing detention," she writes.

The cold comfort is: hey, at least there's some official documentation of this 20-year-long human rights abuse!

Technical Visit to the United States and Guantánamo Detention Facility by the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism [Fionnuala Ní Aoláin / UN Human Rights Special Procedures]

U.N.: U.S. Must 'Make Full Reparation For The Injuries Caused' by Gitmo [Spencer Ackerman / Forever Wars]

Conditions at Guantánamo Are Cruel and Inhuman, U.N. Investigation Finds [Carol Rosenberg / New York Times]