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The ICRC's work at Guantanamo Bay

30-11-2004 News Release 04/70

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been regularly visiting the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay since early 2002 for the purpose of monitoring that persons held there are treated in accordance with applicable international laws and standards.

It also enables those detained at Guantanamo Bay to remain in contact with their families by means of Red Cross messages.

The contents of the ICRC's representations and reports are confidential and for the exclusive attention of the relevant detaining authorities. Therefore, in accordance with its usual policy, the organization will not publicly confirm or deny whether the quotations in the article entitled " Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantanamo " , which appeared in the New York Times of 30 November, reflect findings reported by the ICRC to the United States authorities regarding the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The ICRC uses its exchanges with governments to make clear its concerns and recommendations regarding the situation in places of detention and to demand changes when necessary. Guantanamo Bay is no exception. The ICRC remains convinced that its policy of direct and confidential representations to the detaining authorities best serves the objective of ensuring that the detainees’ treatment meets the standards set by international humanitarian law. This policy has made it possible for the ICRC to have repeated and regular access to those held at Guantanamo Bay and to speak with them in private.

The recent creation of the Office of Detainee Affairs in the US Department of Defense has provided a forum in which issues relating to Guantanamo Bay can be discussed in a more timely and systematic manner. Nevertheless, the ICRC remains concerned that significant problems regarding conditions and treatment at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed. The organization will pursue its discussions on these issues with the US authorities.

In 2003, the ICRC visited over 2,000 places of detention holding nearly 450,000 persons deprived of their freedom in about 80 countries. For thousands of those detainees, including many at Guantanamo Bay, visits by ICRC delegates constitute their only contact with the outside world.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Antonella Notari, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2282 or +41 79 217 3280  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2930 or +41 79 217 3226  

 Amanda Williamson, ICRC Washington, tel. +1 202 431 6906  

 Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, ICRC London, tel. +44 7818 03 4932