U.N. Committee Calls for Closure of Guantanamo Bay

by Roger Alford

The UN Committee Against Torture has released their report and recommendation for the United States. It includes a statement that “The State party should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility.” The report is available here.
I franky am somewhat surprised that the U.N. Committee flatly called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. The Committee’s mandate is to ensure compliance with the obligations under the Convention. Thus, their focus should be on the treatment of detainees, not the location of those detainees. There obviously are valid arguments for the closure of Guantanomo Bay, as Lord Goldsmith outlined in his recent speech. The most obvious of those arguments is that Guantanamo Bay has become, in his words, a “symbol to many – right or wrong – of injustice.” But it is another thing altogether for a U.N. Committee to make legal arguments that the United States cannot legally comply with its obligations under the Convention if detainees are held in prison X or detention facility Y. I would welcome the thoughts of others on this.

Also, if anyone is aware of a response from the United States to the report please post it in the comments.


3 Responses

  1. US Department of State —

    May 19, 2006


    John Bellinger, Legal Advisor


  2. Thanks Charles for the link. I should note that John Bellinger is making similar arguments regarding the Committee exceeding its mandate. “The committee also seems to have stretched in a number of areas to address issues that are well outside its mandate and outside the scope of the Convention Against Torture. We know these issues are out there. These are issues that you’ve all heard before, but we did not think that it’s in the scope of this particular committee to go try to address every issue relating to detainees or Guantanomo and try to somehow squeeze it into the mandate of the Convention Against Torture. And so in a couple of areas where they have said that they think that there are issues or violations of the Convention, we think those are areas that are well outside their mandate.”

  3. This is just a when you can not win on the facts assert the law and if you can not do that assert jurisdiction. It is a ludicrous argument and part of the sophism used to rationalize torture. The report is quite refreshing.


    Benjamin Davis

    Associate Professor of Law

    University of Toledo College of Law

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