Washington, DC, June 10, 2008) – More than two-thirds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including many cleared for release or transfer, are being housed in inhumane conditions that are reportedly having a damaging effect on their mental health, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
The 54-page report, “Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo,” documents the conditions in the various “camps” at the detention center, in which approximately 185 of the 270 detainees are housed in facilities akin to “supermax” prisons even though they have not yet been convicted of a crime. These detainees have extremely limited contact with other human beings, spend 22 hours a day alone in small cells with little or no natural light or fresh air, are not provided any educational opportunities, and are given little more than a single book and the Koran to occupy their time. Even their two hours of “recreation” time – which is sometimes provided in the middle of the night – generally takes place in single-cell cages so that detainees cannot physically interact with one another.
“Guantanamo detainees who have not even been charged with a crime are being warehoused in conditions that are in many ways harsher than those reserved for the most dangerous, convicted criminals in the United States,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Security measures don’t justify locking people in windowless cells 22 hours a day, for months and years on end, with almost no opportunity for human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation.”
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