Tuesday 24 November 2009

UN Calls For Transparency On 'Israel’s Guantanamo Bay'

From the Ma'an News Agency:

The UN has sent an official request to Israel to admit the existence of secret prison camp 1391, dubbed in the press "Israel’s Guantanamo Bay," according to the Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners affairs.

Minister Issa Qaraqe told a news conference in Ramallah on Saturday that the UN had asked the Israeli government in a letter to officially acknowledge that the facility.

Human rights experts with the United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned Israeli officials about the facility in may when the country came up for a regular review under a treaty obligation, Reuters reported.

Although Israel declined the UN’s request to discuss 1391 earlier this year, Israeli officials have indirectly confirmed the facility's existence. Former Israeli Justice Minister Dan Merridor told the Haaretz newspaper that he was aware of the site but never visited it.

News reports say that Israel has held Palestinians, Lebanese, and other Arabs at the site. The detention of Palestinians there reportedly increased during the second intifada. Former inmates told the Guardian newspaper that they were held in black, windowless cells with little light.

After being detained and transported to the prison wearing hoods, prisoners said they were told they were “in Honolulu,” “outside the borders of Israel,” or “on the moon,” the newspaper said. The government has even airbrushed ariel photographs and altered maps to conceal the facility’s existence, according to the report.

In interviews with the Israeli and foreign press, former prisoners have also reported cases of rape, prolonged nudity, and tactics regarded as torture. Unlike other Israeli prisons, the Red Cross is not allowed to visit the facility.

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