In a first, UN rights expert to visit Guantanamo

AFP , Wednesday 1 Feb 2023

The United Nations announced Wednesday that one of its rights experts will visit the Guantanamo Bay detention facility later this month, in a first such visit after two decades of requests.

In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military g
In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. AP


Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, will undertake a visit to the United States, starting on Monday.

"Between February 6 and 14, the independent expert will visit Washington and subsequently the detention facility at the US naval station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," the UN said in a statement.

The expert, who is appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but is unpaid and does not speak for the United Nations, will issue a statement on her findings and recommendations following the visit.

In the following three months, Ni Aolain "will also carry out a series of interviews with individuals in the United States and abroad, on a voluntary basis, including victims and families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and former detainees in countries of resettlement/repatriation", the statement said.

In March 2022, Ni Aolain announced she had received a "preliminary invitation" from Washington to visit Guantanamo, explaining that the parameters for the trip were still under discussion.

The secretive US military prison once housed hundreds of suspected militants captured by US forces during Washington's so-called "war on terror" following the September 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda in 2001.

In October, the Pentagon said 35 detainees now remain at the facility, with 20 eligible for transfer and nine still facing charges in a military tribunal.

US President Joe Biden is under pressure to clear out uncharged prisoners at Guantanamo and move ahead with the trials of those accused of having direct ties to Al-Qaeda.

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