Galway human rights academic identifies clear violation of basic human rights at Guantánamo Bay

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

A leading academic from Barna stated yesterday that the legal processes at Guantánamo Bay are unfair and that human rights are being denied those who are being detained there.

In an interview from Guantánamo Bay yesterday morning on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, a Professor of Law specialising in human rights, said that it was clear from her observations that the legal process underway there was unfair, and that it was very possible that President Trump would be sending more prisoners to the detention camp over the coming four years.

Professor Ní Aoláin is in Guantánamo Bay observing a pre-trial hearing for five men who are accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks, whose cases are being heard in military commissions.

“One of the main arguments that the lawyers for the five accused are presenting to the court here every day is that the process here is basically unfair. You can’t put people before a court when everyone who will be judging them is part of the military structure. That’s to say, there is no independence, the type of independence you would expect from a normal court.

“The American government doesn’t accept that it is unfair, but they have obligations to fulfil as they have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which accepts that court cases must proceed in a fair and open manner, and that the accused have rights.

“It’s not clear that those rights are being respected here in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,” she said yesterday.

Professor Ní Aoláin said that there were questions over the sanctity of basic rights at Guantánamo.

“For example the defence lawyers, they can’t speak openly in the prison with the five accused because they believe the CIA is listening to everything they say. They use a pen and paper, and throw it down the toilet when they’re finished with the meetings. They don’t believe that even that basic right, to speak openly to your lawyer, is being respected and protected in this place.”

Professor Ní Aoláin said that it was also clear that there was no intention to close the prison in the near future. “Having seen the structures in place here, I can say that it is very clear that there is no intention to close this place ... a more pressing question is, does President Trump intend to send further prisoners here? There is construction underway. There is room for more prisoners. Having seen what he (President Trump ) has done so far, it’s not clear that he doesn’t intend to send further prisoners here in the coming four years,” Professor Ní Aoláin said on Wednesday when she spoke on Adhmhaidin on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

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