The U.S. military says 14 suspected terrorists who have been transferred to the controversial detention ceneter in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba early this week are being treated according to international standards, and new guidelines.
On Wednesday, President Bush announced that 14 terrorism suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, have been transferred from a secret location to the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of Guantanamo Bay, told reporters in Washington on Thursday that the new detainees are being well-treated.
"They are being treated in accordance with U.S law and international obligations and treaties, to include the Convention Against Torture, Article Three of the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act, and Defense Department directives and instructions governing detainee ops," said Admiral Harris.
Admiral Harris says the new detainees are receiving the same quality of care as other prisoners at Guantanamo.
"They are afforded the opportunity to worship, and will have access to the Koran in their native language, and other prayer accessories," he said. "They will be allowed to send and receive mail. Their medical and dental care is comparable to that received by any service member deployed here at Guantanamo."
He says the detainees will be given an opportunity to meet with lawyers before they face a military commission to review their status.
The U.S. Defense Department announced a new directive on Wednesday that prohibits the use of harsh interrogation techniques. During the last two years, human rights activists have accused the U.S military of violating international law by using inhumane treatment againts the terrorism suspects held in Iraq and at the Guantanamo Bay naval station.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and some European countries went even further by calling on the United States to close the detention center in Cuba. But the Bush administration has rejected their request.
President Bush is calling on lawmakers to approve legislation that would allow the detainees to be put on trial before military tribunals. But some U.S. lawmakers, as well as some of the U.S. military's top lawyers, oppose some provisions of the legislation, on the grounds that it would deprive them of their basic legal rights.