A five-member team of United Nations human rights experts found that the United States has failed to comply with international human rights and law of war obligations by detaining indefinitely and without charges hundreds of men at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report criticizes the lack of a legal basis for these detentions, the creation of military commissions that do not meet international fair trial standards, and the use of abusive interrogations and tortuous force feeding.

The report deserved a careful response by the United States. Instead, the U.S. government sought to undermine the report’s credibility and importance by highlighting the experts’ refusal to accept the U.S. invitation to visit Guantanamo. By precluding the experts from meeting with detainees at Guantanamo, the invitation did not permit genuine monitoring of prison conditions and squarely conflicted with standard UN rules for visiting detention facilities. The experts were right not to participate in the charade of a show tour.

The expert report makes a number of recommendations to the Untied States, including recommendations to:

  1. Close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay;
  2. Release or turn over to the governments of Afghanistan detainees who were captured in connection with the international armed conflict in Afghanistan, which ended in 2002;
  3. Release or prosecute detainees who were not captured in connection with an international armed conflict but who are alleged to have committed criminal acts;
  4. Ensure that detainees are not sent from Guantanamo to countries where they are in danger of being subjected to torture;
  5. Ensure that all allegations of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are thoroughly investigated by U.S. criminal courts, and perpetrators—up to the highest level of military and political command—are brought to justice.