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U.N. Panel Urges Closure of Guantanamo Detention Center

A United Nations panel on torture called on the United States Friday to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and expressed concern over reports of secret prisons.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Renewed pressure to shut down the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, came today from the United Nations Committee against Torture.

    It's a panel of independent human rights experts that monitors compliance with the 1984 Convention against Torture, which the U.S. signed. Committee Chairman Fernando Marino outlined the key findings of the 11-page report at a press conference in Geneva.

    FERNANDO MARINO MENENDEZ, Chair, U.N. Committee against Torture: We expressed our conviction that Guantanamo be closed definitively. We indicated that some interrogation techniques used were prohibited by the convention, and we gave concrete examples.

    We also indicated that the prohibition of cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment applied to any such activity on foreign territory, and not only within the United States, and this prohibition was mandatory according to the convention.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The panel said Guantanamo should be closed because, quote, "detaining persons indefinitely without charge constitutes, per se, a violation of the convention."

    "The U.S. should give Guantanamo detainees access to a judicial process or release them," the panel said, "but not to a country where they might be tortured." The committee also said that no U.S. prisoners anywhere in the world should not be subject to interrogation techniques like sexual humiliation, waterboarding, or intimidation by dogs.

    White House spokesman Tony Snow said today that the questioning of detainees is done "fully within the boundaries of American law." State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also responded.

  • SEAN MCCORMACK, State Department Spokesman:

    Very often we hear these arguments, "Well, you need to close down Guantanamo Bay," which, you know, eventually, certainly, the United States would like to do, but you have to deal with the people that are in there.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The Guantanamo Bay facility currently holds about 460 prisoners, most of them captured during the war in Afghanistan. Some 300 others have been released or transferred.