Thursday, February 25, 2021
Rule of law, you say? Earlier this week, a roster of UN Special Rapporteurs called on the U.S. government to not only close Guantanamo but to do more: provide reparations to those injured, and accountability for conditions imposed on those kept there, including torture. President Biden has pledged to review Guantanamo operations with the intent to close the site, but how many times have we heard that before? According to the UN experts, these years of delay have taken a tragic toll, and "many of the remaining detainees are vulnerable and now elderly individuals whose physical and mental integrity has been compromised by unending deprivation of freedom and related physical and psychological torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Also this week, Secretary of State Blinken indicated that the U.S. would run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council in October 2021, a welcome development after years of isolation from international institutions. But with that re-engagement should come a heightened obligation to improve our human rights record at home. Ending the continued travesty of Guantanamo, and making serious reparations for the damage caused, must be a prerequisite to the US reclaiming its standing in international human rights institutions.