UN: It's Illegal to Force-Feed Gitmo Hunger Strikers

High Commissioner of Human Rights says US breaking international convention

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2013 8:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US is breaking international law by force-feeding Guantanamo detainees to keep them alive as they hunger strike, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said today. "If it’s perceived as torture or inhuman treatment—and it’s the case, it’s painful—then it is prohibited by international law," a spokesman for the commissioner tells the AFP.

About 100 of the prison's 166 detainees are striking, and of those 21 are being force-fed (you can read a stomach-turning description of that process here). The World Medical Association, a 102-nation watchdog that includes the US, declared in 1991 that force-feeding is "never ethically acceptable," unless the prisoner agrees, or is declared by a physician to be too impaired to make a rational choice.

A detainee shields his face as he peers out through the so-called "bean hole" which is used to pass food and other items into cells, at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Dec. 4, 2006.   (AP Photo/Brennan Llinsley)
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