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U.N. Report Assails Detention, Interrogation at Guantanamo

By Warren Hoge


Human rights investigators working for the United Nations called on the United States on Thursday to shut down the Guantanamo Bay camp and either try its detainees quickly or free them.

Arguing that many of the interrogation and detention practices used in Guantanamo amounted to torture, the investigators’ report said those who ordered or condoned abusive practices should be brought to justice “up to the highest level of military and political command.”

The 54-page report, based largely on interviews with former detainees and publicized information, including news accounts, is not legally binding. But it urged that Guantanamo be closed “without further delay,” and called for U.S. personnel to be trained in international standards for the treatment of detainees.

The White House promptly dismissed the report, suggesting that the investigators had based their conclusions on false information spread by terror suspects.

“I think what we are seeing is a rehash of allegations that have been made by lawyers representing some of the detainees,” Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said on Thursday. “We know that al-Qaida detainees are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations.”

The report, released Thursday after a draft had circulated earlier this week, said the United States should immediately revoke all “special interrogation techniques” authorized by the Defense Department. It called upon the United States “to refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, discrimination on the basis of religion and violations of the right to health and freedom of religion.”

McClellan asserted that the U.S. military already treated detainees humanely. “These are dangerous terrorists that we are talking about who are there,” he said. “Nothing has changed in terms of our views.”

The report was requested by the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and compiled by five independent scientists, lawyers and academics over the last 18 months. As such, it does not prompt any official U.N. action, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has no direct authority over the commission, distanced himself from its specific recommendations.

“I cannot say that I necessarily agree with everything in the report,” he said Thursday.