It is four years since the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba but human rights groups say it is now more difficult to ascertain what is going on inside the US military base. Created to house suspected terrorists after the September 11 attacks, only the Red Cross is now allowed unrestricted access every four to six weeks. In a report published on Wednesday by Amnesty International, three more prisoners have spoken of violence, torture and humiliations practiced at Guantanamo.
Their statements also add weight to previous allegations that detainees have been flown by the CIA to countries such as Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan for questioning. The US has denied claims it tortures prisoners at the camp. Briton Moazzam Begg was held in Guantanamo for three years. He was released without charge last January. He said: “To be in a state of limbo is the worst of the tortures. It’s worse than being beaten, it’s worse than being kicked in the face, it’s worse than being stripped naked, it’s worse than being threatened with being sent to Egypt where you’ll be tortured with electrodes stuck to your testicles, it’s worse than all that.”
Cases are now underway against a Canadian and a Yemeni detainee in military tribunals in Cuba. These have been criticised for failing to give suspects a fair trial. Colonel Morris Davis explained Washington’s position: “These people are here because they want to destroy the bill of rights, not uphold the bill of rights. So we are extending to them rights that they would never contemplate and to them it’s got to be bemusing – the gymnastics we have gone through to protect their rights.”
Amnesty has called once again for Guantanamo to be closed but the Bush administration has argued it needs flexibility in dealing with its so-called war on terrorism and is resisting all pressure, including a hunger strike there by more than 80 prisoners.