Guantanamo Hunger Strikes: “Symptoms of a Failed System”

Human Rights First expressed concern today about the reports of hunger strikes by Guantanamo detainees. ”The hunger strikes are symptomatic of a detention and interrogation system that is failing on legal, political and ethical grounds” said Hina Shamsi, deputy director of the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First. “Men who have never been charged with a crime are being held in isolation, without access to natural air and light, let alone family, and with no end in sight. Guantanamo is a laboratory for the effects of lawless detention, and it is not surprising that the prisoners there are being driven to despair.”

The current hunger strikes are reportedly to protest the harsh conditions of a new detention facility, known as Camp 6, where detainees are subjected to solitary confinement and extreme sensory deprivation, among other conditions. According to lawyers who represent some of those held at Guantanamo, the new conditions have contributed to their clients’ physical and mental deterioration. Because of classification requirements, however, the information lawyers are able to disclose about their clients’ treatment is often out of date, making it harder for the public to have a full picture of detention conditions or even of the number of hunger strikers.

“The bad news from Guantanamo doesn’t stop, but the answer is not greater secrecy or tinkering with bad policy,” added Shamsi, “Instead, each time, there needs to be increased pressure on Congress to take action and implement a detention and trial system that complies with the rule of law and American values.”


Published on April 10, 2007


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