NEW YORK – The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture has cancelled a planned trip to the Guantanamo detention center on Dec. 6 due a refusal by U.S. officials to allow private contact with detainees. According to Agence France Press, a UN inspection team led by Manfred Nowak had set a Nov. 17 deadline for acceptance of specific conditions, including interviews with some of the more than 500 prisoners being held at the detention facility within the U.S. naval base.
Deutsche Presse Agentur, Germany‘s national news agency, notes that only representatives of the Red Cross International Committee have been allowed to talk to the detainees in private. International conventions require that they not discuss thee conversations.
The UN inspectors expressed regret about the U.S. refusal to carry out what they described as “just, objective and credible” contact with detainees, the Spanish EFE News Agency reports. Human rights activists have criticized jail conditions and indefinite detention without trial. So far only nine detainees have been charged with any crime, although some have been held for up to three years. Accusations have also been made that detainees have been tortured, a charge denied by U.S. leaders.
Three UN officials had been invited by the United States to visit the facility: Nowak; Asma Jahangir, who focuses on religious freedom; and Leila Zerrougui, who looks into arbitrary detention. According to Reuters, two other proposed members of the delegation were rejected, including Leandro Despouy, special investigator on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Paul Hunt, special rapporteur on mental and physical health.