Irish law professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, released a 23-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, stating that the 30 men currently held at Guantanamo are subjected to ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law.
The United Nations’ first independent investigator to visit the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay
While acknowledging the 2001 terrorist attacks as crimes against humanity, Ní Aoláin criticized the U.S. for its use of torture and rendition in the aftermath of the attacks, which violated international human rights law and impeded the pursuit of justice.
Ní Aoláin commended the Biden administration for allowing her unprecedented access to the facility, marking the first time a U.N. investigator has been permitted to visit since its opening in 2002. She urged other countries to follow suit and grant U.N. access to detention facilities. During her visit, Ní Aoláin scrutinized every aspect of Guantanamo and expressed serious concerns about the continued detention of the 30 men, emphasizing their insecurity, suffering, and anxiety.
The professor highlighted the profound psychological harm suffered by detainees, including anxiety, hopelessness, depression, and dependency. She criticized the U.S. government for failing to provide torture rehabilitation programs and insufficient care for the detainees’ urgent mental and physical health issues. Ní Aoláin expressed profound concern that 19 out of the 30 men have never been charged with a crime despite two decades in custody, suggesting that their continued detention stems from authorities’ reluctance to face the consequences of torture rather than an ongoing threat.
The Biden administration, while acknowledging the report, asserted that conditions at Guantanamo are humane and reflect respect for human rights
Ní Aoláin made several recommendations, including the immediate closure of the Guantanamo prison, specialized rehabilitation for detainees, regular phone calls with family members, and equal access to legal counsel for all detainees. It claimed significant progress toward closing the facility, having transferred 10 detainees and seeking suitable locations for the remaining eligible for transfer.
The report also addressed the rights of 9/11 victims and previously released detainees, emphasizing the right to justice for victims and calling for compensation and healthcare options for those who waived their rights. Many released detainees have experienced sustained human rights violations, poverty, and social exclusion due to a lack of support and opportunities.