8 Feb 2018 17:18

Moscow calls on U.S. to close Guantanamo prison, accuses Trump of not wanting to follow human rights obligations

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) - By signing a decree extended the operation of the Guantanamo Bay prison, United States President Donald Trump has showed that he does not want to fulfill international obligations in the human rights sphere, Anatoly Viktorov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights and the Foreign Ministry's envoy on human rights, democracy, and supremacy of law, said in an interview with Interfax.

Trump announced the signing of the decree in his State of the Union address on January 30.

"By his decision to wind up the program to close this 'establishment,' Donald Trump not only confirmed that human rights observance by Washington is becoming secondary in the context of counterterrorism but demonstrated the new administration's unwillingness to observe its international obligations in the sphere of human rights," Viktorov said.

"We again call on Washington to observe its obligations under international law, ensure that every person is equal before the law, and take measures to promptly close the prison," he said.

The document gives the U.S. the right to put new prisoners in the special prison "if the need arises," he said. "The practice of trying prisoners' cases with a special interdepartmental commission will continue, and the Pentagon has been tasked with determining the conditions for imprisoning people who have taken part in military conflicts. The possibility of 'isolating enemies' captured during military conflicts is regarded as a lawful and effective means of combat," Viktorov said.

"There are 41 prisoners in the prison now. Most of the prisoners have been held for a long time without any charges or a fair trial. All in all, more than 700 people have gone through the Guantanamo prison. Concerns about torture and other types of inhumane treatment have been stated repeatedly by international human rights structures," he said.

U.S. and international human rights activists, including from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the American Civil Rights Union, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch called Trump's decree "a big mistake" that is hardly likely to contribute to the strengthening of U.S. security and accused the U.S. president of racism and Islamophobia, Viktorov said.