Human rights group blasts Guantanamo

June 10, 2008 at 11:10 AM

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- A Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday found treatment of prisoners at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was harsh.

"Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo" recorded conditions at the detention center, in which some detainees are housed in a manner similar to "supermax" prisons, even though they haven't been convicted of a crime, the Washington human rights organization said in a release.

Guantanamo Bay detainees have limited contact with other humans, spend 22 hours a day alone in cells are not provided educational opportunities and given little more than a single book and the Koran, HRW said.

"Guantanamo detainees who have not even been charged with a crime are being warehoused in conditions that are in many ways harsher than those reserved for the most dangerous, convicted criminals in the United States," Jennifer Daskal, HRW senior counterterrorism counsel, said.

Guantanamo officials said detainees are housed in supermax-like facilities because of past bad behavior and can earn their way out with good behavior. Officials also said they plan to initiate several reforms, including increased recreational time, allowing detainees to gather and adding language classes -- moves HRW says are overdue.

Human Rights Watch urged the United States to limit the use of supermax-like units as punishment for 30-day periods, allow videoconferencing in addition to phone calls to family members and to provide educational opportunities.

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