Guantanamo Bay has been a source of much infamy for the United States. Known just as Guantanamo or Gitmo and officially known as the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, the detention centre and prison was located in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base of the United States. It was setup in January 2002. Donald H. Rumsfeld, the then Secretary of Defence, stated that the prison camp was meant for very dangerous prisoners and those who were an extraordinary threat to the country. During the now infamous war on terror, hundreds of Afghans, many Iraqis and suspects, terrorists and criminals from Horn of Africa were brought to the detention camp and were subjected to questioning, interrogation and torture at the camp.
Why the Controversy
The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp controversy spiralled up when there were reports that the prisoners kept there were subjected to inhuman torture, methods of interrogation that were not approved and strategies were employed that were beyond the jurisdiction and application of the statutes of the Geneva Convention.
The establishment of the detention camp was planned so it could be beyond the jurisdiction of US courts and the prisoners cannot thus claim to be protected under the US laws, under the laws of their own country in case they were foreign nationals and protection under the provisions of the Geneva Convention. In a nutshell, the Gitmo camps were meant to give the armed personnel and interrogators a free hand to deal with prisoners, suspects and very dangerous criminals.
The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp controversy has hogged the headlines on numerous occasions. There have been movements to close it down and it eventually led to the Obama Administration to take some positive steps. Among the three major camps that were there, Camp X-Ray has been closed. Camp Iguana and the larger Camp Delta do remain open. Ever since its inception in 2002, there have been many cases filed by prisoners and families of prisoners and in 2004, one US Supreme Court decision gave the prisoners the rights of protection under the Common Article 3 as stated in the Geneva Convention.
Ordered to be Shut Down
In 2009, the President of the United States, Barack Obama had issued an order to stall the operation of Guantanamo military commission for four months and the facility was shut down for a year. Since then, many prisoners have been transferred to facilities in the mainland including the centre in Thomson, Illinois.
Despite promises by the administration, the detention camp remains open and is expected to operate. This has kept fuelling the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp controversy. There are more than a hundred detainees right now at Gitmo.
Among the first reasons that caused the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp controversy was the account provided by three Muslim prisoners. The prisoners were of British nationality and they were deported to the UK. After being deported, the officials in the UK released them immediately without charging them with anything. The three men, who came to be known widely as Tipton Three, gave chilling accounts of what happens in the detention camp.
Reports of Torture
The men stated that they were subjected to relentless torture; the personnel at the detention camp sexually degraded them, forcibly drugged them and carried out religious persecution. Another detainee at the camp, Mehdi Ghezali, was released in 2004 after he had spent two and a half years in the facility. He too stated that he was subjected to inhuman torture. Another former detainee Omar Deghayes claimed that he was subjected to incessant pepper spray attacks and that he had been blinded by the act. Juma Al Dossary, another detainee, said on record that he was beaten with broken glass, cigarettes were burnt onto his skin, he was tortured on barbed wire and he had to bear sexual assaults as well. Dossary states that he had been subjected to the endless torture for hundreds of times. David Hicks had mentioned that he was subjected to sensory deprivation, he was slammed onto concrete, he suffered from sleep deprivation, he was subjected to stress positions and was also forcibly administered drugs.
The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp controversy has been a blot in the history of the United States but more on the image of its military and naval forces. It had attracted criticism from across the worlds. The detention camp often did not restrict itself to detainees from the Middle East. American citizens were also subjected to the brutal torture and so were foreign nationals from countries that were not typically terror ravaged or hotbeds of terrorist organizations. From several suicide attempts to successful suicides, reports released by WikiLeaks explaining at length what transpired at the camp to major media organizations and press associations conducting research and investigation to find out the truth about the camps, there has been a lot of muck revealed.
Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp controversy is one of the worst cases of abuse of power and violation of human rights.