Red Cross Expresses Alarm Over Detainee Health at Guantánamo Bay

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — A senior official with the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a uncommon assertion of alarm on Friday about deteriorating well being circumstances and insufficient preparations for growing old prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

The US navy should do a greater job of offering look after prisoners who’re “experiencing the signs of accelerated growing old, worsened by the cumulative results of their experiences and years spent in detention,” Patrick Hamilton, the pinnacle of the Red Cross delegation for the United States and Canada, mentioned within the assertion.

In March, Mr. Hamilton and different delegates made a routine quarterly go to to the detention facility, the group’s 146th for the reason that wartime jail opened in January 2002. He mentioned the detainees’ “bodily and psychological well being wants are rising and changing into more and more difficult.”

“Consideration have to be given to adapting the infrastructure for the detainees’ evolving wants and disabilities, in addition to the foundations that govern their day by day lives,” mentioned Mr. Hamilton, who had final visited the jail in 2003, when 660 males and boys had been held there. Today, 30 detainees stay.

Red Cross officers usually don’t remark publicly on the circumstances at the detention facility, preferring to maintain their communications with the US authorities confidential.

Ordinarily, quarterly visits embrace conferences with the detention facility commander, who’s presently a brigadier basic with the Michigan National Guard. Members of the delegation, which usually consists of a physician, additionally meet with detainees, interview those that will quickly be launched and ship messages from household.

Mr. Hamilton mentioned navy officers at Guantánamo had been “providing some short-term options” to the prisoners’ growing bodily and psychological well being wants.

He urged the Biden administration and Congress to, as a precedence, “discover enough and sustainable options to handle these points.”

Lawyers for a few of the prisoners, notably those that spent years in harsh, secret CIA custody earlier than Guantánamo, have mentioned detainees have mind harm and problems from blows and sleep deprivation, broken gastrointestinal programs from rectal abuse and points presumably linked to extended shackling and others. confinement.

One of essentially the most debilitated prisoners is Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who’s in his 60s and is the jail’s oldest detainee. He has undergone six operations on his backbone and again at Guantánamo Bay since 2017 by Navy medical groups who had been airlifted to the bottom.

His lawyer, Susan Hensler, mentioned Friday that Mr. Hadi was just lately recognized with “extreme osteoporosis” that possible contributed to issues in his most up-to-date operation, in November. Doctors inserted steel inside his again, however the gadget slipped and screws turned unfastened, she mentioned. Navy medical doctors plan to deliver a staff to the bottom this 12 months for an additional surgical procedure, utilizing larger screws.

The Red Cross assertion comes lower than a month after a gaggle of United Nations investigators made public a criticism that they had introduced to the United States on Jan. 11 about well being care provisions at the jail, and for Mr. Hadi particularly.

Mr. Hamilton mentioned the United States wanted to undertake a “extra complete strategy” to detainee well being care. “All detainees should obtain entry to enough well being care that accounts for each deteriorating psychological and bodily circumstances — whether or not at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay or elsewhere. This consists of instances of medical emergencies.”

“At the identical time, consideration have to be given to adapting the infrastructure for the detainees’ evolving wants and disabilities, in addition to the foundations that govern their day by day lives,” he mentioned.

Government staff, who weren’t licensed to be recognized by identify, have complained about air-con issues at the jail for detainees by the month of Ramadan, which is ending.

The navy had no speedy touch upon both the Red Cross concern or the air-con concern.

The Red Cross official additionally urged the Pentagon to grant its prisoners longer, extra frequent cellphone calls with members of the family, “allowing for the overall absence of in-person visits.”

Lawyers have mentioned detainees are usually entitled to talk with members of the family 4 instances a 12 months.

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