(MintPress) – In an unprecedented public statement, U.S. officials declared that there is no “indefinite detention” taking place at Guantanamo Bay prison, standing in stark contrast to the outpouring of opposition voiced by human rights organizations, civil liberties groups and lawyers in recent years. Seven military prosecutors have resigned or requested reassignments since 2008 because of concerns that Guantanamo military commissions were unjust.
Civil liberties experts believe that the prison is unconstitutional and does not grant prisoners due process of law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“The United States has an operation that can only be described as a medieval torture chamber. It’s in violation of Geneva Convention, and in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It violates legal principles such as trial by jury that goes back thousands of years,” anthropologist Dr. Mark Mason said in a recent statement.
This contradicts recent statements made by the U.S. State Department officials attempting to quell the public outcry against torture and illegal imprisonment.
“The United States only detains individuals when that detention is lawful and does not intend to hold any individual longer than is necessary,” said Michael Williams, a senior legal advisor for the State Department, at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
There has been heightened public opposition to indefinite detention after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in 2012. The NDAA allows federal authorities to hold U.S. citizens suspected of having “substantial ties” to a terrorist organization without trial or due process of laws.
Human Rights organizations, including Amnesty International, claim that Guantanamo detainees are subject to systematic torture and abuse in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, a body of international laws expressly prohibiting torture.
The majority of the roughly 774 detainees who have been held at Guantanamo Bay prison since it opened in 2002 have not been sentenced or received a fair, transparent trial in a civilian court. Many have been held on suspicion of terrorist activity, released months later after U.S. authorities determine innocence.
Mohammed Sadiq, an 89-year-old Afghan man suffering from acute dementia and prostate cancer, was among those cleared for released after months of interrogation during his illegal imprisonment in 2002.
There are currently 166 detainees — most are Yemeni nationals who have been cleared for release. Thirty-six are due to be prosecuted in federal courts, although those trials have yet to take place. Many of the expected releases have been delayed, raising further questions regarding the legality of detentions at the facility.
Shaker Aamer, a British national of Saudi descent, has been held for more than 11 years at Guantanamo without charge or trial. He was detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001 on suspicion of aiding Taliban fighters.
Aamer was cleared for release in early 2007, but has yet to be repatriated to the United Kingdom. His 11 years at Guantanamo make his detention the longest of any individual held at the prison.