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Week of 5.19.06

U.N. Report on Torture

The United Nations has urged the U.S. to shut down its prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and avoid using any secret detention facilities to hold foreign terrorism suspects.

On Friday (May 19) the Committee Against Torture, the U.N. body that monitors compliance with the world's anti-torture treaty, also called on the U.S. to ban any interrogation method that could be considered as torture or cruel treatment.

The move came as U.S. military officials at Guantanamo said prisoners with makeshift weapons attacked guards during a phony suicide attempt on Friday (May 19). The incident left six prisoners wounded.

In a report, the group cited methods such as sexual humiliation, a form of mock drowning known as "water boarding", and the use of dogs to scare detainees.

The U.S. "should ensure that no one is detained in any secret detention facility under its de facto effective control," said the committee, which has no legal power to enforce its recommendations.

It added that the U.S. "should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close the detention facility." A number of human rights groups, as well as Britain's attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, have called on President George W. Bush to close the facility.

Earlier this month, the committee held a panel meeting in Geneva on America's compliance with the 1987 U.N. Convention Against Torture.

John B. Bellinger III, a legal advisor for the State Department who led the U.S. delegation at the meeting, told the Associated Press that the committee had appeared to have not read or ignored much of the information Washington had supplied.

"There are a number of both factual inaccuracies and legal misstatements about the law applicable to the U.S.," he said.

The U.N. committee also voiced concerns about domestic American jails, citing the use of electro-shock devices and the practice of shackling women prisoners during childbirth.

Read the Committee Against Torture report  [Requires Adobe Reader]