ResourcesPress Release

Obama's Guantanamo Policy Condemned by PHR

Indefinite detention can cause psychological harm and should not be formal US policy

For Immediate Release

Cambridge, Mass. – March 10, 2011– PHR condemns President Barack Obama’s recent announcement that military trialswould resume for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Thedecision formalizes the use of indefinite detention and marks a stark reversalfrom the President’s initial promise to close the controversial prison.

Upon entering office, the President called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.However, soon after, Obama began to advocate for a new law of "preventivedetention,” which allows the United States to imprison people indefinitely andwithout charges.

"To formalize this appalling policy of holding people forever without evertelling them why goes against American values of justice,” said Frank Donaghue,CEO of Physicians for Human Rights. "We are not only denying these detaineesdue process, but engaging in policies that can cause serious psychological harm.”

Research increasingly indicates that indefinite detention causes lastingpsychological harm in healthy individuals. Without proper information regardingthe terms of their confinement or release, detainees tend to developdebilitating depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, severe anxiety, despair,and depression.

"President Obama had it right when hewas a candidate running for office: This damaging policy must not be allowed tocontinue,” said Donaghue.

As reported in numerous accounts by media and human rights organizations,including PHR, many of the detainees held over the years at Guantanamo havebeen subjected to various forms of ill-treatment, including torture. Until theabuses which occurred at Guantanamo are fully investigated and thoseresponsible are held accountable, the standing of the United States as a nationfully committed to human rights will remain in question.

"Especially for those that have already beentortured, indefinite detention is an inexcusable continuation of abuse,” saidDonaghue.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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