ICRC to pursue US on Guantanamo issue
* Relief organisation committed to human rights, says media coordinator
* Negotiations with US to get underway soon
ISLAMABAD: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned that the problems regarding the condition and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed and will pursue discussions with US authorities in this regard, said Mr Frederic Gouin, the ICRC media coordinator.
He said this in reaction to reports that detainees had been physically and psychological tortured at Guantanamo Bay by US authorities.
Mr Gouin told Daily Times the ICRC had been visiting the US detention facility regularly since early 2002 in order to make sure that detainees were treated in accordance to international law. The organisation also enabled those detained at Guantanamo Bay to remain in contact with their families by means of Red Cross messages, he said.
However, when asked to verify the contents of the ICRS report, Mr Gouin said the contents were confidential and could only be accessed by the relevant authorities. Mr Gouin said the organisation would not confirm or deny whether quotations in the article entitled ‘Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantanamo’, which appeared in an international paper, reflected the findings reported by the ICRC to the United States authorities regarding the conditions and treatment of detainees.
He said the ICRC used its discussions with governments to clarify its concerns and recommendations regarding the situation in places of detention and to demand changes when necessary. Guantanamo Bay was no exception to this rule, said Mr Gouin. He said the ICRC was convinced that its policy of direct and confidential representations to the detaining authorities best served the objective of ensuring that detainee treatment met the standards set by international humanitarian law.
“This policy has made it possible for the ICRC to have repeated and regular access to those held at Guantanamo Bay and to speak to them in private,” said Mr Gouin, when asked about the logic behind the confidentiality. He said the ICRC was concerned that problems regarding the conditions and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay had not been adequately addressed, adding the organisation would pursue the discuss of these issues with US authorities.