The US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay is condemning thousands of people across the world to a life of suffering, torment and stigmatisation.
Hundreds of people remain held in a legal “black hole”, after four years of indefinite detention. According to testimonies collected by Amnesty International, some families, who know that their relatives are or have been detained by the USA, have received little or no communication from Guantánamo. Some do not know the whereabouts of their loves ones, or even if they are alive.
The report Guantánamo: Lives torn apart – The impact of indefinite detention on detainees and their families, contains testimonies of a number of former detainees and their relatives and assesses the current state of those still held at Guantánamo, including nine men who remained imprisoned despite no longer being consider “enemy combatants” by US authorities.
But the torment does not end in Guantánamo. For some of the “war on terror” detainees, transfer from Guantánamo has meant a move from one place of unlawful detention to another. For others, it has meant continual harassment, arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment. Even for those who have been returned to their home country, the physical and psychological reminders of their time at Guantánamo remain, and the stigma of having been labelled an “enemy combatant” or “the worst of the worst” by the US Government will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Four years since the first “war on terror” transfers to Guantánamo, some five hundred men from around 35 nationalities remain held, most without charge or trial. Some allege they have been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In desperation, some detainees have attempted suicide. Others have gone on prolonged hunger strikes, being kept alive only through what they have described as painful forced feeding measures.