ACLU Calls for Immediate Independent Investigation into Reported Suicides at Guantánamo Detention Facility

June 12, 2006 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today called for an immediate and independent investigation into the deaths of two men from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen in the U.S.-controlled detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. According to the ACLU, the government has regularly down played the severity of suicide attempts, calling them “incidents of self harm” or “hanging gestures.”

In what appears to be a related development, the military commissions that were to have resumed today have been indefinitely suspended. No reason for the suspension was given. The ACLU said it is greatly concerned with the deepening secrecy surrounding Guantánamo Bay.

The ACLU has long held that the military commissions being used to try the 10 detainees who have been charged with crimes are not a fair and legal route of judicial redress. The remaining 450 detainees have not been charged with any crime and are being held indefinitely. The ACLU has been monitoring the commission proceedings since they began in August 2004.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU.

“The U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantánamo Bay has undercut America’s moral authority. Reports of three detainee suicides further weaken our standing at home and abroad. We must undertake an immediate and independent investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of those in custody.

“The shroud of secrecy surrounding Guantánamo Bay must be lifted, with independent access to and monitoring of the facilities on an ongoing basis. This monitoring should include the medical treatment of detainees, especially those who have chosen to engage in hunger striking as a way to draw attention to their conditions of confinement.

“The military commissions set up by President Bush have been a sham from their inception. They are not legal, not fair and not representative of the American system of justice. All detainees charged with crimes deserve an open and fair hearing, and those not charged should be immediately released.

“The core underlying injustices of the Guantánamo Bay facility need to be remedied before other lives are lost. The conditions are the antithesis of the America we hold in our hearts and our minds.”

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