Foreign Relations & International Law Terrorism & Extremism

UN Special Rapporteur Releases Guantánamo Report

Tyler McBrien
Tuesday, June 27, 2023, 3:37 PM
Human rights investigator Fionnuala Ní Aoláin found that detainees had sustained “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law.”

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On June 26, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Fionnuala Ní Aoláin released her report following a technical visit to the United States and U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay from Feb. 6 to May 6. She was the first UN investigator ever granted access to the detention center by the U.S. government.

Ní Aoláin‘s visit comprised three parts—the rights of victims of terrorism, the rights of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and the rights of former detainees—and opened the “possibility to address the profound human rights violations that have occurred there and the irreparable harms to the lives and health of the 780 Muslim men who have been detained there, including 30 men who remain.”

In her report, the special rapporteur found that detainees had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law.” She writes: 

It is evident that the horror and harms of extraordinary rendition, arbitrary detention, and systematic torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment inflicted overtime occurred in part because of an exceptional and international law deficient legal and policy regime; the permeation of arbitrariness across subsequent detention practices; and the lack of international law compliant domestic oversight and accountability.

She also called the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 a “crime against humanity,” and recognized that the victims “have equal right to remedy and reparation, encompassing a wide set of entitlements like access to justice and access to information.”

Read the special rapporteur’s report here or below: 

Read the reply from the U.S. government here or below:

Tyler McBrien is the managing editor of Lawfare. He previously worked as an editor with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Princeton in Africa Fellow with Equal Education in South Africa, and holds an MA in international relations from the University of Chicago.

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