Torture is a Criminal Act – Generation Justice

Six Guantanamo prisoners arrive in Uruguay after 12 years in US detention without charge.” I remember feeling sickened when I first read this headline.

Guantanamo Bay is essentially an internment camp, and since the camp opened on January 11th, 2002, 779 men have been imprisoned. 54 men are still imprisoned after long since being cleared for release. People around the world have been outraged about the existence of this camp since its inception, as inhumane acts of torture are part of the daily process within it’s cold walls. Even though Guantanamo Bay is receiving media attention right now, however, it is not the only place that these criminal acts are being committed.

The media hype around the release was absolutely appalling. News spread like wildfire that six men had been released from Guantanamo Bay and were sent to a refugee camp in Uruguay. Most of the information that I read made it seem like the United States was doing these men an incredible favor by releasing them. And then, days later, the FBI torture report was released to the public.

I assumed that there had to be some sort of connection between releasing detainees from Guantanamo Bay and releasing the torture report. Whether this was intentional or mere coincidence, transparency is not justification for torture. Whether or not the US released this report in order to play as a threat to expected “terrorists,” these issues should be treated accordingly, within the rights and policies that the US should be following. In other words, torture is a criminal act against humanity and it must be stopped.

I believe it’s unethical and wrong that the release of the torture report was framed to give the impression that these disciplinary tactics were a thing of the past. Even if the Obama administration successfully closes Guantanamo Bay for good, which seems unlikely due to the fact that it was supposed to close years ago, this would not mean the end of torture in the US.

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, solitary confinement is very much an act of torture. Prisoners around the country are subjected to “near-total solitude for between 22 to 24 hours a day.” This type of seclusion is used as a tool for repression, and can cause the prisoner severe health problems, including mental disorders and physical pain.

The US has the largest prison population in the world, with nearly a total of 700 people incarcerated per 100,000 people. Over 2 million people in the US were incarcerated at the end of 2011. Although I believe that imprisonment, in general, is a form of torture, all prisoners are at risk of solitary confinement, which means that a huge chunk of the US population is at risk or is subjected to torture daily. And this doesn’t include the countless people who are subjected to police brutality outside of the prison system.

In a country that has a history of extreme militarization and incarceration, I highly doubt that the US would completely shut down Guantanamo Bay. However, if it does, I hope people realize that there are other areas, like the prison system at large, where reform is needed in order to prevent and abolish torture.