Guantanamo conditions deplored

New report by rights group finds prisoner treatment "unnecessarily harsh".

    Prisoners are given "recreation" time in single-cell cages, sometimes in the middle of the night [EPA]

    However, none of the prisoners have been convicted of a crime.
     
    Mental health issues
     
    Jennifer Daskal, senior counter-terrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said: "[They] are being warehoused in conditions that are in many ways harsher than those reserved for the most dangerous, convicted criminals in the United States."
     
    'Inhumane' conditions


    Around 185  prisoners held in maximum security cells

    They spend 22 hours alone in their small cells

    The rooms have no natural light or fresh air

    Prisoners are given no education opportunities

    Their two hours of "recreation" time is spent in single-cell cages, sometimes in the middle of the night

    Source: Human Rights Watch

    "Security measures don't justify locking people in windowless cells ... with almost no opportunity for human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation."
     
    The 54-page report by HRW investigators said several prisoners were suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, while some even reported seeing visions and hearing voices.
     
    Unlike those in US "supermax" prisons, none of the Guantanamo prisoners being held in "harsh conditions" have been allowed visits by family members.
     
    The Pentagon has in the past promised to allow prisoners to make phone calls home, but the report said less than a quarter have been given that opportunity.
     
    Some of the nearly 200 people held in the maximum security environment have even been cleared for release or transfer, HRW said.
     
    "It is unwise and short-sighted to house them in conditions that likely have damaging psychological effects and will only breed hatred and resentment of the United States," Daskal said.
     
    Military officials have said improvements will be made at the facility, including increased recreation time and regular opportunities for prisoners to interact, but no schedule for implementation has yet been announced.
     
    Read the full HRW report, entitled "Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo": http://hrw.org/reports/2008/us0608/
     
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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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