For Immediate Release
Chief Communications Officer
jhutson [at] phrusa [dot] org
Tel: (617) 301-4210
Cell: (857) 919-5130
U.S. Government Must Release Guantánamo Force-Feeding Tapes
Obama Administration Must Immediately End Force-Feeding and Other Abuses
NEW YORK - Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) denounced the U.S. government’s latest move to block the release of tapes showing force-feeding at Guantánamo, calling it a patent effort to conceal this unlawful and unethical practice from the public.
U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli yesterday appealed a federal judge’s October 2014 order to publicly release the redacted footage, which shows the force-feeding and “forcible cell extraction” of former Guantánamo hunger striker Abu Wa’el Dhiab. Dhiab has since been resettled in Uruguay, but his counsel, Reprieve, has continued seeking the release of the tapes, along with 16 media organizations.
“The Obama administration’s refusal to release these force-feeding tapes is part of an effort to conceal ongoing abuse of Guantánamo detainees, and prevent accountability for these practices,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s medical director. “Force-feeding is a form of inhuman treatment that violates medical ethics. The government must not only release the tapes, but must end force-feeding altogether and address the underlying violation of indefinite detention at Guantánamo.”
The American Medical Association and the World Medical Association consider force-feeding to be a form of inhuman and degrading treatment and prohibit the force-feeding of competent adults under any circumstance. Iacopino said the U.S. government is suppressing the footage because it would expose the military’s abusive treatment of detainees on hunger strike and call into question the continued practice of force-feeding and “forcible cell extractions,” the use of military police in riot gear to restrain and move detainees from their prison cells to restraint chairs.
PHR also noted that today marked the seven year anniversary of President Obama's executive order to close the detention facility at Guantánamo. PHR has repeatedly called for an end to indefinite detention without trial and the closure of the prison.
PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them. PHR mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all.