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20 Mar, 2013 10:24

UN concerned by Gitmo hunger strike

The UN Human Rights body has finally responded to mounting media coverage of the Guantanamo crisis. In a letter answering RT’s inquiry, spokesman for the High Commissioner said the office was looking into the details of the mass hunger strike.

While aware of some of the allegations of mistreatment of inmates said to have provoked the hunger strike - which include undue interference with the inmates’ personal effects - we are still trying to confirm the details,” the letter said.

The statement from the office of the High Commissioner goes on to say UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has “repeatedly regretted that the US Government has not closed Guantanamo Bay.”

She is concerned with fact that the National Defense Authorization Act has created obstacles for the closure of Guantanamo and also trial of detainees in civilian courts as well as releasing those cleared of allegations.

The UN has not been afforded sufficient access to the island prison, which will make it difficult for the organization’s human rights body to obtain the data they need.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which visited the island prison from February 18 to 23, was the first among international organizations to comment on the situation at the Guantanamo detention camp. It released the following statement:

The ICRC believes past and current tensions at Guantanamo to be the direct result of the uncertainty faced by detainees.”

Meanwhile, Gitmo officials have become more open on the hunger strike. On Tuesday Guantanamo Communications director Captain Robert Durand confirmed the number of protesting detainees nearly doubled over a 10-day period, reaching 24.

Still, he rejected claims by the detainees’ attorneys that the majority of inmates were involved in the protest, which reportedly started in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on February 6.

The strike thus enters Day 43 on Wednesday, with medical experts predicting that by Day 45, participants can experience potential blindness and partial hearing loss.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has sent a letter to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him “to address this growing crisis at Guantánamo before another man dies at the prison.”