Obama’s Guantanamo Policy Condemned by Physicians for Human Rights
NEWS, 14 Mar 2011
For Immediate Release
Indefinite detention can cause psychological harm and should not be formal US policy.
Cambridge, Mass. – March 10, 2011 – PHR condemns President Barack Obama’s recent announcement that military trials would resume for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The decision formalizes the use of indefinite detention and marks a stark reversal from the President’s initial promise to close the controversial prison.
Upon entering office, the President called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. However, soon after, Obama began to advocate for a new law of “preventive detention,” which allows the United States to imprison people indefinitely and without charges.
“To formalize this appalling policy of holding people forever without ever telling them why goes against American values of justice,” said Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights. “We are not only denying these detainees due process, but engaging in policies that can cause serious psychological harm.”
Research increasingly indicates that indefinite detention causes lasting psychological harm in healthy individuals. Without proper information regarding the terms of their confinement or release, detainees tend to develop debilitating depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, severe anxiety, despair, and depression.
“President Obama had it right when he was a candidate running for office: This damaging policy must not be allowed to continue,” said Donaghue.
As reported in numerous accounts by media and human rights organizations, including PHR, many of the detainees held over the years at Guantanamo have been subjected to various forms of ill-treatment, including torture. Until the abuses which occurred at Guantanamo are fully investigated and those responsible are held accountable, the standing of the United States as a nation fully committed to human rights will remain in question.
“Especially for those that have already been tortured, indefinite detention is an inexcusable continuation of abuse,” said Donaghue.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses medical and scientific expertise to investigate human rights violations and advocate for justice, accountability, and the health and dignity of all people. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.
Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.
- 1988 — First to document Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Kurds
- 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans
- 1996 — Produced critical forensic evidence of genocide in Rwanda
- 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
- 2003 — Warned of health and human rights catastrophe prior to the invasion of Iraq
- 2004 — Documented and analyzed the genocide in Darfur
- 2005 — Detailed the story of tortured detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Guantánamo Bay
- 2010 — Showed how CIA medical personnel sought to improve waterboarding and other interrogation techniques that amount to torture.
Senior Press Officer
mprock [at] phrusa [dot] org
Tel: (617) 301-4237
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