President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Dear President Bush:
I write to respectfully ask if the health of those persons detained on grounds of alleged terrorism or other violations in Guantanamo Bay military base, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is being sufficiently taken into consideration by the US authorities.
The ICRC first commented in January 2004 that it had observed a deterioration in the psychological health of a large number of Guantanamo Bay detainees over the two years it had been monitoring their health. The ICRC attributes this deterioration, at least in part, to the detainees' uncertainty of their future under indefinite detention. This conclusion is supported to the extent that a forensic psychologist had found that all 14 detainees similarly incarcerated in the UK indefinitely without charge have developed a severe mental disorder, and three have become psychotic.
The ICRC has had regular access to the persons detained at Bagram and are increasingly concerned that the US authorities has not resolved the questions of the legal status of the detainees there
Additionally the ICRC's observations regarding certain aspects of the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees in Bagram and Guantanamo have not yet been adequately addressed.
Lastly, beyond Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, the ICRC is increasingly concerned about the fate of an unknown number of people captured as part of the so-called global war on terror and held in undisclosed locations.
As the chairperson of the leading UK health and human rights organisation I urge you to:
1. respond to the concerns expressed by ICRC to your government following its visits to Guantanamo Bay and Bagram in particular those about the deteriorating health of detainees;
2. permit the ICRC to visit those places of detention that it has so far been denied, including undisclosed locations;
3. permit the UN human rights delegation to visit places of detention in accordance with its request of 25 June 2004;
4. remove detainees under the age of 18 years from Guantanamo Bay to a place more appropriate for juveniles;
5. remove the six detainees named as eligible for trial by military commission from incommunicado detention in windowless cells;
6. place all detainees within a legal framework that governs their continued detention;
7. Respect the principle of non-refoulement which prohibits the return or transfer of a person to a country where they fear that their life or their physical or mental integrity might be threatened.
Dr Peter Hall,
MBBS, MRCPI, DGM
Chair, Physicians for Human Rights-UK