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History of Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp

Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp is a military camp. It is used for inprisonment and interrogation by the military of the United States of America. It is located within an area known as Guantanamo bay in Cuba and is also a naval base. In the 1970s, the U.S. government used part of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as a temporary housing for the Haitian and Cuban refugees who were intercepted on the high seas trying to get to the U.S. from the Caribbean. This continued as a refugee camp until a United States district Court made it unconstitutional in the year 1993 on the 8th of June (Hersh, 2004). This ruling instigated migration from the camp and, hence, in the late 1995, the last Haitians departed the camp.

In October 2001, U.S. began taking part in the war in Afghanistan to overturn the Taliban, a group that was considered to be enemy combatants, and, hence, had to look for a way to house those persons arrested in the war for further questioning.  It was transformed into a military utility in 2002 by the Bush Government of the U.S. It was gradually upgraded so as to provide some vital care to the detainees. This included the building of structures like the hospitals, interrogation areas, and others. It was started with the aim of holding detainees and was determined to be a connection with the opponents that were in Afghanistan, and, later, who were held in Iraq. The base is an operation that is controlled and run by Joint Task Force Guantanamo that is a force of United States in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base that is based and fronts its trade in Guantanamo bay in Cuba (Rapley, 2007). The prison got its name from the place where it is located. This detainment camp is very infamous for the way the military treats the prisoners in the detainment camp with the aim of getting the required information from them. The treatment of the prisoners has made the detainment camp very well-known to people around the world. The camp was started during the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Cuba by the Bush administration and has been in operation since then. In 2005, the U.S. department of defense announced that it would use $1 billion to build a detention facility and also a very safe security perimeter wall around the base.

The detention camp has three camps that are separate in terms of location. These include camp Delta, and this camp includes camp Echo. There is also camp Iguana and camp X-ray. However, camp X-Ray has been closed since then. This detention camp is popularly known as Guantanamo; GTMO is an abbreviation used by the military for Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. It is also called G-Bay (Cucullu, 2009).

This camp was started as a means to have an authority and a show of power in the U.S. government under the administration of President George Bush.  Bush made some political appointees to the U.S. office of legal counsel that is under the department of justice. These appointees had the job of advising the president on some legal matters. This council advised the president that the detention camp would be considered to be a symbol of power, and also it would be legal outside of the country. On January 11th 2002, the camp was started officially by the military taking the first 2 dozens captives there. During this time, the captives had no rights. Because the Bush administration has asserted that these detainees were wholly under the U.S. government, and, hence, they had no protection owed to them by the Geneva conventions.  However, by doing this, the president was ensuing the supreme court of United States. This court made a ruling, which has been maintained since then, that the detainees were fully entitled to minimal protection by the Geneva conventions, and stated clearly that it is listed under the common article 3. This was a landmark ruling that was passed on June 29th 2006 in the case Handan v. Rumsfeld. Due to this, on July 7th 2006, the department of defense released an internal memo, which stated that the country and the department of defense under the administration of Bush would recognize the protection given to the prisoners in the Geneva conventions in the future. This meant that the department would thereof recognize that prisoners are entitled to protection that is under common article 3 in the future.

The main reason that has made this camp so infamous is because the former and the current prisoners complained about torture and different types of abuse. These allegations have since been denied by the Bush administration. In the year 2006, United Nations decided to close down the detention camp, which it failed to accomplish. As a matter of fact, one of the judges, who proposed the closing down of the detention camp, declared it against human rights, and that the torture did not coincide with most of other civilized nations. A Bush administration official, known as Susan J. Crawford, became the first of the many officials that were appointed by the Bush administration to admit that there actually was some torture in the camp. This, she did while answering Bob Woodward’s (a journalist with Washington post) questions. This interview took place in January 2009, where she admitted that Abd al-Rahim al-NAshiri was actually tortured. In turn, this event caused a fresh challenge to the government, where they had previously denied having tortured anyone. The official was answering the question as to how the detainees were brought into trial while in the detention camp (Smith, 2007).

On 20th of May 2009, the U.S. senate passed and made an amendment to an act known as Supplemental Appropriation Act of 2009 to block any funds needed by the military for release to transfer of prisoners who were held at the G-Bay detention camp. This was a vote that was historical as it was passed unanimously by the senate in a 90-6 vote. On 15th of December 2009, president Barrack Obama gave a presidential memorandum that ordered Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois to be restructured and well-prepared to receive the transferred Guantanamo prisoners. A report that had researched on the detention camp was released on January 22nd of 2010. The report was released by a taskforce for review of the camp. The figures released indicated that the camp was holding a total of 240 detainees at the time. Of the 240, 48 detainees have been deemed too dangerous and inhuman and, hence, would not be transferrable, but they were not feasible to prosecute. 126 detainees were free to be transferred and were not very dangerous. The report also indicated that there were 30 detainees from Yemen in the camp, and were put there for conditional detention, which had been necessitated by the poor security in the country of Yemen.

On 7th July 2007, president Obama passed the Defense Authorization Bill of 2011. This was even as the congress made it difficult for the transfer of the prisoners to the mainland or to any foreign country. These restrictions by the congress mostly to the U.S. mainland made it difficult for the closure of the facility. According to the statistics from January 2002, 779 detainees were brought to the camp, where nearly 200 of them were released by mid 2004. This was before a commission or the combatants’ status review tribunal that was going to review if any individual had been held rightfully or not. According to the Bush administration, most men were captured in the war in Afghanistan. However, a report was released in 2006 indicating that about 80% of the detainees were captured by the Afghans and the Pakistanis in exchange for a heavy payment (Saar & Novak, 2005). The U.S. government had offered to give $5000 for every received prisoner and distributed pamphlets in the region indicating the same. The prisoners held in this camp according to the department of defense were the ‘worst of the worst’, and that they were involved in terrorism in one way or another. However, a memo provided in 2003 by Donald Rumsfeld, who was by the then secretary of defense, indicated that the camp administration needed to discontinue populating the camp with low level prisoners and should stop acting like a prison in Afghanistan. This was after a report was released that most of the prisoners were low levels and were not in any way connected to terrorism.

According to a report, eight men actually died in the detention camp, and the department of defense has claimed that of the eight, six of them committed a suicide. The department of defense claimed that three men, a Yemeni and two Saudis committed suicide on 10th June 2006. According to the same report, an estimate of 17 to 22 minors was detained. The minors are explained to be persons below the age of 18 years. This is a contravention of the international law to detain people below the age of 18. In 2005, there was a major transfer of detainees from the camp, where 242 were transferred out of Guantanamo Bay. This number included 173 released without charge or trials. According to the department of defense, 69 of the prisoners have been transferred to the supervision of other countries’ governments where they were from. According to former U.S. head of states, Jimmy Carter, 169 of the prisoners remained in the camp as of June 2012 (Margulies, 2006). He said that about half of those still in the camp have been planned to be released, but yet they cannot obtain their freedom back.

Prisoners’ complaints

There were three British prisoners of Muslim religion that were known in the media as Tipton three at the time. The three went back to the United Kingdom in 2004 March, where they were released without trial immediately. The prisoners have accused the officers at the camp of severe torture in the camp through forced drugging, sexual degradation, and religious persecution that were committed by the U.S. forces.

Mehdi Ghezali, a former Guantanamo detainee, was freed without charge in July 9, 2004. This release came after he spent two and half years in the prison. He claimed that he was a victim of being subjected to repeated torture in the camp. Omar Deghayes alleges that he was blinded using pepper spray during his detention. This is good evidence that there was torture of the prisoners by the military of the country. Another former prisoner, Juma al Dossary, claimed that he was interrogated too many times, and that at all those times he would be beaten to give information. He claimed that he was tortured by being beaten with broken glasses, being burnt with burning cigarettes, being beaten with barbed wires, and even being subjected to sexual assaults. David Hicks, another former detainee of the camp, made some allegations that when he was in the camp, there was mistreatment in the camp. Some of the tortures that he mentioned were: being subjected to stress positions for long, sensory deprivation, and also having his head slammed against the walls, and to the concrete in the torture chambers and drug injections in to the body (Kurnaz, 2008).  In 2005, a report was released, which claimed that sexual methods were used by female interrogators, so that they could break the Muslim prisoners. Another prisoner also claimed that he lost one of his teeth and also aquired an arm disability during his interrogations and the entire detainment.

Many of the released former detainees have complained of enduring sleep deprivation, beatings prolonged stressful standing or sitting in an uncomfortable position, forced drugging, prolonged hooding, cultural and sexual humiliation, and other psychological as well as physical mistreatment while they were in the detention camp. However, even after the torture that has been given to the prisoners, very limited information have been received from the tortured prisoners.

Criticism of the detention camp

Members of the European Union and the organizations of the American states and other non-governmental organizations have criticized and protested the legal status of the camp and also the physical and psychological conditions of the prisoners in the detention camp. A non-governmental organization known as human rights organization Human Rights Watch has brought up some criticism to the U.S. government and more so the Bush administration due to the designation it had on 2003 world report. In this report, it said that Washington had ignored the rights of human beings believed to be terrorism suspects. Through the department of defense, the U.S. government refused to consider terrorism suspects as human beings who were subject to human rights as per the Geneva conventions (Claeys, 2010).

Some newspapers in the United Kingdom with The New York Times among them have been critical of the detention camp. A columnist in the New York Times, Thomas Freidman, wrote and urged President George W. Bush to shut the detention camp down. The reporter called camp Delta an embarrassment to the U.S. In November 2005, experts from UNCHR (United Nations Commission on Human Rights) planned to visit camp Delta, but called it off. The reason of the calling the visit off was explained to be due to the U.S. government frustrating their efforts to hold interviews with the prisoners. In February 2006, the U.N. released a report that urged the U.S. government to either try or charge all the prisoners or else to release all the prisoners, and mostly those suspected for terrorism. European leaders also contributed to the opposition of the interment center.


Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp has been criticized by leaders all over the world due to the torture that it subjected its prisoners to. This detention camp should be closed down as it has a bad history and as it has turned to be an embarrassment to the country and the government. Guantanamo has not followed proper and legal regulations by the Geneva conventions. This has given enough evidence why this camp should be closed down to avoid any further torture to the prisoners. This detention camp should be closed down and the tortured prisoners of the camp should be compensated.

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