News / USA

Court Orders US Gov't to Stop Guantanamo Genital Searches

FILE - Barbed wire surrounds the prison camps at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba in this April 17, 2013 video frame grab reviewed by the U.S. Military.
FILE - Barbed wire surrounds the prison camps at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba in this April 17, 2013 video frame grab reviewed by the U.S. Military.
A U.S. federal judge has ordered the government to stop genital searches of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, an act detainees’ lawyers say was aimed to break a hunger strike and discourage their clients from seeking legal counsel.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth on Thursday would change the examinations detainees are subject to before and after any phone call or meeting they have with their counsel.

“Specifically, guards shall be limited to grasping the waistband of the detainee’s trousers and shaking the pants to dislodge any contraband,” Lambert wrote in his ruling.

Col. John Bogdan, who oversees the prison, ordered guards to begin the genital searches in May. He told the court his decision was based on an interest in the security of the detention facility.

He said he “developed a phased approach in December 2012 to gradually” implement the new search procedure following the suicide of detainee Adnan Farhan Abd Latif and the separate discovery of contraband when prisoners in Camp 6 were moved from communal living to single cell housing.

In response, Judge Lamberth said the “Court finds that the new search procedures lack a ‘valid, rational connection’ to the legitimate government interest - security - put forward to justify them.”

Lamberth also asserted that “Bogdan’s swiftness in implementing the new searches in May 2013 shows that linking the new searches to the death of Latif and the subsequent investigation was merely an afterthought.”

Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale said the Pentagon is reviewing the decision.

“We’re aware of the judge’s ruling and we will continue to follow the law,” he said about an hour after receiving the Court’s decision.

The government has not yet stated whether it will make an appeal.

Attorney David Remes, who represents five Guantanamo detainees who are hunger striking to protest their treatment, has described the frisking of detainees' genitals and buttocks as “humiliating, especially for devout Muslim men." 

He demanded Bogdan’s immediate replacement and called the court's ruling a "disaster for the government."

"It's an unmistakable reminder that the court, not the government, is custodian of the legal rights of the detainees," Remes said. 
 
Cori Crider of the British human rights group Reprieve said the judge’s decision was “fantastic news.”

“Those searches were clearly established to stop clients coming out to speak to attorneys and therefore the world outside,” she said, noting that many prisoners were refusing calls because they did not want to undergo the "groping."

“I hope their being discontinued will convince the clients to come out and speak to lawyers again, so we can learn what is happening with the hunger strike more easily," she said.

Of the 166 men imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, more than 100 are refusing to eat to protest their indefinite detention. The government is force-feeding 45 prisoners. The hunger strike began in February.

In a separate Guantanamo case Monday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said she did not have the jurisdiction to rule on a detainee's petition to stop the force feedings, which she called a "painful, humiliating and degrading process." That action, she said, should be taken by U.S. President Barack Obama.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs