The US policies and detainee rights

The treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is a topic of debate. Although many see it as human rights abuse, many justify these, saying that terrorism needs to be punished stringently. Stringent punishment and human rights are two different issues. The human rights issue at Guantanamo is based on the fact that the inmates have no access to the courts, cannot challenge their detention; just simply remain imprisoned under harsh conditions. The policy of the US insisting on human rights on issues associated with other countries, does not see it necessary to have it in place at Guantanamo.

However the rights of the prisoners and abuse of human rights at Guantanamo needs to be seen from a wider angle of the goals of security policies, functioning of security agencies and public threat perception. The withholding of legal rights is a denial of fundamental rights, which shouldn’t be accepted in a democracy. Similarly, the infringement of citizen’s privacy on security grounds is also a related topic to be debated on. The basics of terrorism need to be reviewed, the psyche of terrorists, particularly Islamic terrorists need to understood and efforts done to being them closer to our system than making them go away from it.

It is high time to review our strategy of confronting terrorism without any rights abuse, and make changes accordingly. The US policies and detainee rights at Guantanamo Bay Introduction Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is the oldest US Naval Base overseas. The only US base in a communist country, Guantanamo Bay is about 400 air miles from Miami. This naval base has an area of about 40 square miles and is located on the southeast region of Cuba. The US had initially leased the area in December 1903 for using it as a coaling station. The leased treaty was reaffirmed in 1934.

The lease can be terminated only by the mutual consent of both countries. With the cease of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and with Cuba cutting off supplies to the base, the base developed to becoming self-reliant. The base produces its own desalinated water and generates its required electricity. The main mission of Guantanamo Bay was to provide logistics support for the Atlantic fleet and help in drug control operations in the Caribbean (Pike , 2008). In 1994, several camps were set up for Cuban and Haitian migrants, under ‘Operation Sea Signal’.

Camp X-Ray was formed on the northern part of the base for use as temporary detention facility. Subsequent to the terror attacks of September11, 2001 and the Afghanistan operations, several Al Qaida and Taliban extremists were captured. It was decided to shift several detainees to the Camp X-Ray detention facility. A Joint Task Force 160 was set up to take care of the captured extremists, while another Joint Task Force 170 was responsible for handling interrogation operations and coordination with the defense department and other government agencies.

The first batch of detainees to Camp X-Ray came on January 11, 2002. Red Cross personnel visited the facility on January 17, 2004 and had a meeting with the field commanders on 21st January. Washington Post reported that Red Cross had highlighted several areas of concern with the facility, which had the military authorities draw up a 5-page memo mentioning 29 points of Red Cross’ concern, to their higher ups.