Guantanamo Bay: Past, Present and Future

Topics: Laws of war, Guantanamo Bay detention camp, War crime Pages: 6 (2227 words) Published: May 3, 2013
Guantanamo: past, present and future

The Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay is the oldest U.S. military base still operating outside the U.S. It has been under U.S. control since 1898 but it was not used to hold prisoners from the Afghanistan war until January 2002. Since then, hundreds of “law combatants” have been held there against the Geneva Convention and their rights have been removed. Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp became a matter of international concern when it was stated that the prisoners were, in fact, prisoners of war and therefore entitled to some rights, as specified in the Geneva Convention. Since that moment, other incidents such as the suicide attempts and the beating of innocent people (Kristof, 2004), have drawn the public eye towards Guantanamo. This essay will be looking at what the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, said and promised during his presidential campaign regarding the closure of Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp and the ending of the torture and the use of abusive interrogation methods, along with what has actually been Further on, it will expose the way in which prisoners are captured and taken to the detention camp, and the conditions in which they are held in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, as well as the humiliations and tortures they go through once they are there. Also, it will talk about the different types of torture and will focus on the practice that was declared legal by the government of the United States.

In order to make this paper easier to understand, it is necessary to explain the differences between the terms “prisoner of war” and “unlawful combatants” together with a short summary of what the Geneva Convention implies with regards to the aforementioned terms. The most relevant difference between POWs (Prisoners of war) and unlawful combatants is that POWs are entitled to a set of rights stated in the Geneva Convention. Because unlawful combatants do not fight by the accepted rules of war, they do not qualify for the Convention’s protection (Dorf, 2002). However, they do qualify for “humane treatment” under the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988 in the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (UN, 1988).

The Geneva Convention is at the core of humanitarian law. Its protocols aim to regulate the armed conflicts and protect those who are not taking part in them such as civilians, health workers, wounded soldiers, and prisoners of war, among other groups of people. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. (Obama, 2009)

This is one of the sentences that Barack Obama pronounced during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. It is related to one of his campaign promises and the executive order he signed in 2002 which was supposed to make the closure of Guantanamo Bay detention camp effective. Eleven years after that, Guantanamo is still running and, although some camps have been closed, prisoners are still held in the same conditions aforementioned.

There are many reasons why the closure has not been effective, one of them is the fact that nowadays, despite all the revelations made by prisoners formerly held in Guantanamo’s facilities, 55% of Americans were in favour of keeping Guantanamo open (Condon, 2010). Many of these difficulties hinge on how to effectively balance the security interests of the free world with respect for the prisoners’ rights under international law (Ivey, 2009). Another reason argued by U.S. officials is the fact that some of the detainees are still waiting for a trial, some others have no formal accusations of crimes or being part of terrorist organisations, and some others are an actual threat to the national security in the United States since some of the prisoners that have already been released...
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