conditions inside Guantanamo continue to deteriorate

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The claim that Gitmo guards are getting "their kicks in" follows a Pentagon report boasting humane conditions at Gitmo.

Liliana Segura, AlterNet February 25, 2009

On Monday, the Department of Defense released a report claiming that conditions at our prison camp at Guantanamo Bay have improved and are, in fact, in line with international human rights standards. That rather dubious conclusion was sharply rebutted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which, on the same day, issued its own report, titled "Conditions of Confinement at Guantanamo: Still In Violation of the Law."

According to CCR Executive Director Vince Warren: "The new report details the inhumane conditions at the base that persist despite President Obama's Executive Order of January 22, 2009, requiring humane standards of confinement at Guantanamo. These include ongoing, severe solitary confinement, other psychological abuse, incidents of violence and threats of violence from guards, religious abuse and widespread forced tube-feeding of hunger strikers. In contrast to the military's report, which appears to include very little testimony or reports from Guantanamo detainees themselves, CCR's report offers multiple cases of abuse in the last two months directly from detainees' experiences."

In a disturbing development, today Reuters reports that, in fact, conditions for Guantanamo prisoners have "worsened sharply" since Obama took office "as prison guards 'get their kicks in' before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees."

Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike...

... "According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated," said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.

"If one was to use one's imagination, (one) could say that these traumatized, and for lack of a better word barbaric, guards were just basically trying to get their kicks in right now for fear that they won't be able to later," he said.

"Certainly in my experience there have been many, many more reported incidents of abuse since the inauguration," added Ghappour, who has visited Guantanamo six times since late September and based his comments on his own observations and conversations with both prisoners and guards.

Ghappour works for Reprieve, the UK-based legal organization that also represents Binyam Mohamed, the rendition and torture victim who was just released from Guantanamo. "I can't really imagine why you would get your kicks from abusing prisoners," he said, "but certainly, having spoken to certain guards who have been injured in Iraq, who indirectly or directly blame my clients for their injuries and the trauma they have suffered, it's not too difficult to put two and two together."

Meanwhile, today, Attorney General Eric Holder, just back from Guantanamo, told reporters at a news conference, "I did not witness any mistreatment of prisoners. I think, to the contrary, what I saw was a very conscious attempt by these guards to conduct themselves in an appropriate way."

Reuters has more.

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Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.

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This page contains a single entry published on February 26, 2009 9:36 AM.

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