On June 14, 2023, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism submitted her 24-page, single-spaced report on her four-day visit to the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Summary of the Report
According to the Special Rapporteur, there are “serious concerns about the continued detention of 30 men and the systematic arbitrariness that pervades their day-to-day, bringing severe insecurity, suffering, and anxiety to all, without exception.” Moreover, “Every detainees she met with lives with unrelenting, ongoing harms following from systematic practices of rendition, torture, and arbitrary detention. For many, the dividing line between past and present is exceptionally thin and past experience of torture lives in the present, without any obvious end in sight, including because they have received no independent, holistic, or adequate torture rehabilitation.”
“Despite the depth, severity, and evident nature of many detainees’ current physical and psychological harms, the detention infrastructure entails near-constant surveillance, forced call extractions, undue use of restraints, and other arbitrary, non-human rights compliant operating procedures stemming from inadequate training, structural healthcare deficiencies, inadequate access to family, including the failure to facilitate meaningful communication; and arbitrary detention characterized by sustained fair trial violations. The totality of these practices and omissions have cumulative, compounding effects on detainees’ dignity and fundamental rights, and a mounts to ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Closure of the facility remains a priority.”
Before this trip to Guantanamo, the Special Rapporteur had “met with repatriated and resettled detainees and their families as well as government personnel in other countries [and had] identified serious shortcomings in the provision of the essential means that former detainees need to live a dignified life, including legal identity, health care, education, housing, family reunification, and freedom of movement. She found that these shortcomings contravened U.S. international law obligations, engaged before, during, and after transfer, including as regards non-refoulment—obligations of a more specific and compelling form when the individual has been tortured in its custody, requiring guarantee of adequate torture rehabilitation. . . .[In short,] the U.S. Government does not have an adequate system to address the well-being of those transferred, or the failure of governments to respect their rights.”
Therefore, “the U.S. Government must ensure accountability for all international law violations, for victims of counter-terrorism and victims of terrorism. . . . The time is now to undo the legacies of exceptionalism, discrimination, and secularization perpetuated by Guantanamo’s continuing existence.”
U.S. Response to this Report
The Biden Administration released a one-page document saying that the current detainees “live communally and prepare meals together; receive specialized medical and psychiatric care; are given full access to legal counsel; and communicate regularly with family members.”
The Administration also said that this report’s findings “are solely only her own” and the U.S. “disagrees in significant respects with [her] many factual and legal assertions” but that the U.S. will carefully review her recommendations.
Details on the Special Rapporteur
Pursuant to appointment as Special Rapporteur by the U.N. Human Rights Council, Ms. Fionnuala Ni Aolain, took up her duties on August 1, 2017. She also concurrently is Regents Professor and Robina Professor of Law, Public Policy and Security at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law at the Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
 U.N. Human Rights Special Procedures, Technical Visit to the United States and Guantanamo Detention Facility by the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism (June 14, 2023); U.N. Human Rights Council, UN counterterrorism expert concludes visit to the United States and Guantanamo detention facility (June 22, 2023); U.N. Human Rights Council, Expert welcomes historic visit to United States and Guantanamo detention facility and affirms rights of victims of terrorism and victims of counter-terrorism (June 26, 2023); Rosenberg, Conditions at Guantanamo Are Cruel and Inhuman, U.N. Investigation Finds, N.Y. Times (June 26,2023); Pilkington, U.S. subjects Guantanamo Bay detainees to ‘cruel’ treatment, UN says after visit, Guardian (June 27, 2023); Lederer (AP), Guantanamo detainees tell first independent visitor about scars from torture and hopes to leave, StarTribune (July 6, 2023); Pilkington, US must urgently treat men tortured at Guantanamo, UN investigator says, Guardian (July 7, 2023).This blog contains many posts that comment on Guantanamo. (List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: CUBA [as of 5/4/20]. See also https://dwkcommentaries.com/?s=Guantanamo.
 Rosenberg op cit.; Lederer, op. cit.
 University of Minnesota Law School, Fionnuala Ni Aolain. This blogger co-taught an international human rights course at the University of Minnesota Law School with three professors, including Ms. Ni Aolain. (My Call Stories, dwkcommentaries.com (Mar. 4, 2019); Teaching the International Human Rights Course, dwkcommentaries.com (July 1, 2011).