US says NO to international inspection of Guantanamo

24 June 2004

US says NO to international inspection of Guantanamo

The government of the United States refuses any access to its prisoners camp in Guantanamo for international delegations. Therefore the planned fact finding mission of members of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO had to be cancelled, after it was already postponed for several times. Dutch SP senator Tiny Kox, who would participate in this mission, has asked the Dutch government in what way the much discussed prisoners camp should now be inspected to see whether international treaties and conventions are respected or not by the Americans. Dutch minister of foreign affairs Ben Bot raised the issue already twice with his American colleague Powell but until now without success.

The SP senator got the following official statement of the US government on Guantanamo:

"Guantanamo Bay Naval Station is an operational detention facility for enemy combattants in the war on terrorism. Since Guantanamo first received detainees in 2002, Department of Defense policy has been to accommodate a limited number of fact-finding and international visits, consistent with the requirements of the military mission and security, to observe operations while ensuring that such visits do not interrupt detention operations. Our requirement to protect the detainees, guard personnel, visitors and the military operations at Guantanamo remains paramount.

Detainees at Guantanamo have been determined not to be entitled to the privileges of the Geneva Conventions. Nevertheless, as a matter of policy, the US governement treats these enemy combattants humanely and, consistent with the requirements of military necessity and security, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions. This includes not subjecting detainees to ‘public curiosity’.

The Secretary of Defense has issued guidance establishing conditions governing all visits to Guantanamo. The conditions state that visits to Guantanamo to observe detainee operations are limited to US officials. Foreign governement intelligence and law enforcement may request access to further intelligence gathering or to conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions. The International Committee of the Red Cross has access to the detainees in Guantanamo.

US Congressional delegations also can visit Guantanamo as part of their Congressional oversight responsibility."

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