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Guantanamo suicides highlight need to close prison: UN
Latest Updated by 2006-06-15 09:19:35
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The suicide of three inmates at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay was a tragic event which highlights the need to close the controversial facility, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday.

"It was a very, very tragic event. It was not completely unexpected that this would happen," said Jose Luis Diaz, spokesman of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"The focus of attention should be on closing Guantanamo. Practically everyone agrees on this," Diaz told reporters in a routine briefing.

"It would seem, judging from statements coming from the U.S. administration, that some in the U.S. administration also believe that this place should be closed," he added.

The deaths, amid a prisoner hunger strike, were described by U.S. officials as the first successful suicides after repeated attempts at the camp, which is located at a U.S. military base in Cuba.

International human rights groups, UN watchdogs and many foreign governments have repeatedly criticized the U.S. for keeping the prison, which was set up in 2002 and still holds more than 400 detainees without trying.

Criticism of the prison surged after guards on Saturday found three inmates -- two Saudis and a Yemeni -- hanged from the ceilings of their maximum security cells.

"What we need to do now is reflect collectively on how to facilitate the process of closing down Guantanamo and what's going to be done with the people who are being held there in those conditions," said Diaz.

He noted that the whole UN human rights system had been very engaged in the situation in Guantanamo.

Most recently, the UN Committee against Torture made a very strong call for the closing of Guantanamo and made other very specific recommendations concerning the treatment of prisoners there.

Several Special Rapporteurs have also been following the situation very closely, according to Diaz.

He said the Special Rapporteurs had asked to visit Guantanamo, but had been denied full access to detainees.

The High Commissioner, Louise Arbour, has also echoed concerns about the detention center publicly, and perhaps more importantly, in this case, privately with the U.S. authorities, Diaz said.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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