The Guardian 23 February, 2005

Guantanamo torture

Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a note to US authorities last month denouncing the violations of human rights in the treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo Naval Base. The Cuban government was acting on information provided by FBI agents based at Guantanamo and the International Red Cross. The notes called for an immediate end to "torture and inhuman conduct."

In a statement the next day, the ministry said, "With this hypocritical conduct, the government of the United States has demonstrated the falsity of its own public statements and once again has lied to the government of the Republic of Cuba, to its own people and to the international community by concealing the horrific acts of torture, cruelty and humiliating and denigrating treatment committed on prisoners detained on the Guantanamo Naval Base."

In the wake of its Afghan and Iraq wars, the Bush administration has been holding some 550 persons from 40 countries at Camp Delta, part of the US Guantanamo complex. Wayne Smith, the former head of the US Interests Section in Havana, noted in the February 2 Atlanta Constitution newspaper the hypocrisy of US officials demanding fair trials and the release of so-called political prisoners in Cuba while consigning prisoners at Guantanamo to endless detention, uncharged and untried.

Cuba based its protest on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Torture. It accused the United States of violating the 1903 Cuba-US treaty that gave the US use of the Guantanamo Bay site.

Cuba claims that the agreement affirms Cuba's ultimate sovereignty over the area and that, by installing a prison there, the Bush administration has violated Article II of the treaty. That provision authorised the United States to do "all things necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling and naval stations only, and for no other purpose."

Cuba reminded the US government of its assurances in January 2002 that foreign prisoners transferred to Guantanamo would receive humane treatment.

The UN Latin American and Caribbean Group recently invited Cuba to join the "Situations Group" of the UN Human Rights Commission.

The Situations Group will soon be dealing with accusations of US human rights violations both in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. The perennial US-Cuba face-off before the commission would appear to be taking on new dimensions.

People's Weekly World

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