The United States military will no longer disclose to the media and public whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike, citing it is no longer in their interest to publicly disclose the information, according to media reports.
While the government claims the decision has been taken for the “welfare of detainees,” the policy however just seems to be a desperate event to cover up human rights abuses at the controversial facility that have long been the focus of media scrutiny.
As of December 2013, 162 detainees remain at Guantanamo.
Over a 100 inmates went on a hunger strike this year against the brutal treatment from prison guards and indefinite confinement. The protest started in February and rapidly gained media’s attention, prompting several non-governmental campaigns and movements. In addition, the reports issued by the Gitmo authorities differed greatly from the ones released by the detainees’ lawyers. For instance, in April, the government claimed the hunger strike was being blown out of proportion since only 40 prisoners were taking part in it. However, lawyers said their clients informed them around 130 inmates were taking part in the protest.
The details of the torturous procedure of force feeding- prisoners furthermore drew the ire of human rights activists.
Around 86 detainees were cleared of all charges many years ago but remain imprisoned due to political and diplomatic hurdles. U.S. President Barack Obama “promised” to close down the detention camp prior to his first term as President. He repeated his vows in several of his interviews and speeches and again after he was re-elected this year in January.
However, nothing concrete was done to ensure Gitmo’s closure, instead, his administration has decided to keep people in the dark about the situation of the prisoners.
"JTF-Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public. The release of this information serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops,” told a spokesman for the military's Joint Task Force-Guantanamo to the Associated Press (AP) in an e-mail.
Moreover, two inmates have been forcefully repatriated to Algeria, which according to a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, is illegal under international law.
With the National Security Agency (NSA) scandal plaguing the Obama administration, is hiding Guantanamo Bay’s situation a wise step?