New York, NY – 02/11/2014 A federal court today declined to stop force-feeding of Guantánamo detainees, allowing the inhuman and degrading practice to continue.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to issue a preliminary injunction to halt force-feeding, a type of intervention that violates core medical ethics and constitutes ill-treatment.
“The rights of men being held in Guantánamo are being completely ignored, and the hunger strike is the only option they have left to protest their indefinite detention, which has lasted more than 11 years without charges for some of them,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s senior medical advisor. “By allowing the cruel and degrading practice of force-feeding to continue, the court has essentially authorized the continuation of an abusive tactic that violates human rights and fundamental medical ethics.”
The detainees being forced-fed are being held in indefinite detention, which is in itself a violation of human rights. A preliminary injunction would have at least stopped force-feeding, which constitutes ill-treatment and could rise to the level of torture. A call for injunctive relief for ill-treatment or torture should be granted under both international standards and the 8th Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
While the court did not immediately stop force-feeding by issuing an injunction, two of the three judges said the detainees did have a right to challenge the practice in court, paving the way for a continuing legal battle over the issue. The judges also pointed that that “force-feeding is a painful and invasive process that raises serious ethical concerns.” The legal challenge was filed on behalf of three detainees.