UN Cites Torture Reports At Gitmo

US Army Military Police escort detainee to interrogation, Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba, on texture, partial graphic 2005/5/16
U.N. human rights experts seeking to visit the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday they have reliable accounts that suspected terror detainees being held there have been tortured.

The four independent experts said the United States had not responded to their numerous requests to check on the conditions of terror suspects at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba, as well as U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places of detention.

They said their request for a visit was "based on information, from reliable sources, of serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violations of their right to health and their due process rights."

"Many of these allegations have come to light through declassified (U.S.) government documents," they said.

A U.S. spokeswoman said the request was still being reviewed in Washington.

"Credible concerns about treatment of detainees at Guantanamo have been voiced by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk from the United Nations. "But the current request for on-site visits comes out of a U.N. Commission on Human Rights committee of four experts and has grave political overtones since it was presented by Cuba in Geneva last month and because of the credibility problems with the Commission itself."

"Most of the proposals for reform of the United Nations seek to overhaul or scrap the Commission on Human Rights because its membership has consistently included some of the world's most persistent human rights violators," added Falk. "The new High Commissioner is in office just one week because of the resignation of the previous one after sexual harassment allegations. The Commission simply does not bring added value to the search for solutions in Guantanamo."

"We are all worried about this situation," Leandro Despouy of Argentina, specialist on the independence of judges and lawyers, told reporters.

The expert on torture, Manfred Nowak of Austria, said, "We are not making a judgment if torture or treatment under degrading conditions has taken place."