The United States’ Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with Respect to the Continued Detention Without Charge or Trial of Prisoners for an Undefined Duration at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility
The continued, prolonged detention without charge of most of the 166 detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba can rise to the level of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in violation of its prohibition under the ICCPR. Although the United States does not categorize any of the detainees as approved for “indefinite detention,” the prolonged detention without charge or trial for an indefinite duration becomes “indefinite” regardless of the label. Indefinite detention has led to “profound depression and vegetative symptoms, with all the attendant degradation of multiple aspects of health” and can lead to similar physical and psychological effects on the families and loved ones of detainees as well.
Not fully raised in the Committee’s List of Issues, but of equal concern is the practice of force-feeding of competent Guantánamo detainees on hunger strike. During this practice, detainees are strapped into a metal chair and immobilized, while tubes pumping liquid nutrition are forcibly inserted into the detainee’s nostrils. This practice has been described by a U.S. judge as “a painful, humiliating and degrading process.”