Moscow officials visit Guantanamo in bid to release Russian detainee
18 January 2014, 16:48
A delegation of Russian officials has visited the Guantanamo detention camp on Friday in a bid to have the only Russian national there released.
The delegation's main objective was to ensure that Ravil Mingazov, a Russian citizen who has been held for over a decade at Guantanamo without charge, would be released as soon as possible, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights, said.
The diplomat said delegates were allowed to have an hour-long conversation with Mingazov and added that his 'presence at the Guantanamo prison is in itself a violation of his basic rights, because all of the detainees are kept there in a so-called 'legal vacuum'. There is no due process, no proper investigation. They are denied access to fair justice'.
Dolgov evaluated the prospects for achieving Mingazov's release as good but refused to elaborate on what Mingazov said about conditions at the facility. However, the delegation is analyzing the information it received, according to Dolgov.
Information about the living conditions at Guantanamo comes in from the 155 inmates' lawyers. The number of hunger strikers at the facility is said to have increased in the last month and currently stands at 33.
Clive Stafford Smith, an attorney for several of the detainees, claims the US military, running the prison, is using painful tactics to stop the hunger strike. For instance, they transfer a prisoner on strike to 'all-steel cells' where they are 'denied the most basic human rights, just as a punishment for going on strike'.
Controversial force-feeding techniques, condemned by the World Medical Association as 'a form of inhuman and degrading treatment,' were extensively applied and carried out in the most painful way by Guantanamo Bay personnel.
'They used to leave tubes up the prisoners' noses, so that it would not hurt so much. They are now pulling these tubes out every single time twice a day and forcing them back up each time. They are still forcing far too much food far too quickly into the prisoner, making prisoners sick,' Smith told.
12 years have passed since the first detainees arrived at Gitmo. Out of 779 inmates held at the facility over this period, only seven have actually been found guilty and sentenced.
Barack Obama pledged to close down Guantanamo when he was running for presidency in 2008. However, he failed to fulfill his promise, blaming Congress, which restricted transfers of Gitmo detainees.
At the end of December 2013, a bill that makes it easier to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo was signed into law. The bill is expected to be a step towards closing the infamous detention center.
Voice of Russia, RT
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|