Charges against DoD

Top officials from the Department of Defense quickly responded that the conditions under which the detainees were held were in line with the Geneva Conventions. The treatment meted out to the detainees were questioned when the DoD released pictures of the detainees in the camp. There were claims that the US was selectively applying international norms, one set for its own needs and another for the rest of the world. The press in most parts of the world emphasized that the detainees need to be recognized as Prisoners of War, which according to Geneva Conventions gives the right of legal representation.

However the US turned down the demand saying that the detainees were illegal combatants. In an effort to put down claims of ill treatment, the Pentagon allowed members of the International Red Cross and British government to see the camp. Although the Red Cross made some recommendations, the British government representatives said that its three citizens housed inside were satisfied with the treatment offered. The Pentagon on its part, suspended transfer of prisoners to the facility on January 24, 2002, saying it didn’t want overcrowding.

The questioning of detainees in the camp was limited to knowing their name, birth details, names of parents and siblings. The DoD maintained that the detainees were kept in 8 by 8 units which were temporarily enclosed by wire mesh. The prisoners were provided with thick mattresses, blankets and sheets. The mattresses are laid on the concrete floor like in Afghan tradition. The guards outside are armed while those inside the camp are not armed, to prevent inmates from capturing arms.

When health concerns of the inmates were raised, the navy constructed a hospital in the camp, which was capable of providing services from dental examinations to major surgeries. The DoD maintained that the hospital would provide detainees with medical care on par with that received by the troops themselves. Camp X-ray was closed on July 31, 2002 coinciding with the opening of bigger facility, Camp Delta. According to editor Richard Wallace of UK based Mirror, the daily existence of the detainees in Camp Delta is awful. The Mirror was permitted on a three day visit to the facility, under heavy security.

Wallace mentions that almost the entire time of the detainees is spent within the cell, leading to development of stress. The cells formed by cutting steel shipping containers are smaller than that in Camp X-Ray (Wallace, 2002). The Mirror revealed that about 30 inmates have already attempted suicide. Living inside the cells have caused insomnia in many, and they simply pace their cells ferociously, or climbed their cell walls, or banged their heads or punch their fists in frustration. The DoD maintained that none of the inmate’s mental health have worsened, and that all have had some psychiatric problems before being apprehended.