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Last Updated: 11/16/2004Guantanamo and Human Rights
Reviewed by Katharina Rohl
"Guantánamo is a professional and humane prison and interrogation centre" , a US Army general is quoted as saying this June at a press conference in Miami. The British journalist David Rose shows convincingly why it is not.
Rose, Guantánamo: The War on Human Rights, New Press, 30 Nov., 2004,
David Rose, Guantánamo: The War on Human Rights, New Press, 30 Nov., 2004, ISBN 156584574
is a professional and humane detention and interrogation centre", a US Army
general is quoted as saying this June at a press conference in
“war on human rights” refers to illegal derogations from the right to a fair
trial, the denial of POW or, indeed, any legal status to those detained, and
above all to the undermining of the universal prohibition of torture. Rose
illustrates an Orwellian scenario, in which sleep deprivation becomes “sleep
adjustment” and food deprivation “diet manipulation”. Former inmates explain
that in Gitmo-Speak, “milieu changes creating a certain degree of discomfort”
means being subjected to deafening noise, nauseating smells, and extremely cold
or hot temperatures for hours or even days. These and similarly humiliating
measures had been authorised in a Rumsfeld document “not releasable for foreign
nationals”. Here, the
But could all this not be justified if it helps to preserve the lives of innocent people who might become victims of further anticipated terrorist attacks? Rose’s interviews with high-ranking officials in the government and the secret services document clearly that Guantánamo interrogations haven’t yet delivered any important information for the international fight against terrorism. This is partly due to the fact that most of the approximately 750 persons imprisoned in Guantánamo have been captivated under very dubious circumstances. Those few who could reliably be linked to Al Qaida turned out to be “small fish”. Further, the interrogation methods of “carrots and sticks” analysed by Rose provide strong incentives for inmates to make false “concessions”.
Yet Rose does not confine himself to detailing the shocking conditions in Guantánamo. He also places the inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners into its political and psychosocial context. His point is not just to accuse those responsible of “destroying the life of innocents”. The book also sheds light on the way that propaganda and paranoia create a climate in which politicians and soldiers become perpetrators of systematic human rights violations without being held accountable.
[Copyright Katherina Rohl]
Katharina Röhl is a University for Peace graduate. She currently works for the German Human Rights Institute in Berlin, conducting research on the fight against terrorism and human rights. She can be contacted via the editor of the Peace and Conflict Monitor