LONDON, March 29 (UPI) -- An international advocacy group reported Thursday that former Guantanamo inmates sent home to Russia have been tortured and abused.
Human Rights Watch said in a report that seven Russians who spent two years at the U.S. military prison were detained and tortured after they were repatriated to Russia in 2004, "despite Moscow's pledge to the U.S. government that they would be treated humanely."
The group stressed the Russian prisoners' experience "illustrates why the United States should stop relying on 'diplomatic assurances' of fair treatment to justify sending prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to countries where they are at risk of torture."
Carroll Bogert, associate director of Human Rights Watch, stated the abuse of the former prisoners in Russia shows that governments with records of torture "don't suddenly change their behavior because the U.S. government claims to have extracted some kind of assurance from them." Bogert added the U.S. authorities "knew that these men would likely be tortured, and sent them back to Russia anyway."
The rights organization said it has urged the U.S. government to allow a prisoner being transferred from Guantanamo to challenge his transfer before an impartial body. "Such procedures should also allow a detainee to challenge the reliability of any diplomatic assurances the U.S. government may have secured," it said.
It added that any such procedure evaluating the detainees' "fear of torture" should not hamper the pace of their return "or the ultimate goal of shuttering the Guantanamo detention facility entirely."