Guantanamo Bay Legalities: How Does it Exist?


Injuries can occur almost anywhere and no personal injury is too small or big, especially at the expense of someone else. There are many types of personal injury cases like car accidents, workers' compensation, and even birth injuries in newborns.

There are also many other types of injuries, and some can be very controversial, like certain practices and interrogation tactics used on detainees.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Center has been under strict scrutiny about the harsh conditions that are being used there. Some of the conditions is sleep deprivation, water boarding, and shackling in stress positions. Check more of legalities of Guantanamo Bay Base this interactive infographic.

Visual Guide to the Legalities of Guantanamo Bay Base

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Guantanamo Bay Legalities: How Does It Exist?

1903, Cuba granted the United States a perpetual lease of a 45-square mile area located in the southern portion of Guantánamo Bay.

It originally served as a coaling station during the Spanish-American War.

Since the Sept. 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks Guantanamo Bay has been used to hold prisoners suspected of being al Qaeda members (or supporters of al Qaeda).

  • The base has been under strict scrutiny since then as the world heard about the harsh interrogation tactics being used there, including:
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Water Boarding
  • Shackling in Stress Positions
  • Prolonged Exposure to Cold Temperatures

There is much debate as to whether the base should continue operations or close. In addition, the laws and court rulings have not been entirely clear as to whether the base should continue operating or close.

What are the laws that support and contradict the existence and practices of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center?

There are two very distinct schools of thought on whether Guantanamo Bay as a prisoner holding detention center should continue to exist.

There have been many laws, court cases, and legislation both supporting and contradicting its existence.

Laws that support Guantanamo Bay’s existence:

  • It is ruled that prisoners do not have any legal privileges in the Unite States. (March 11, 2003)
  • The Detainee Treatment Act prohibits cruel and degrading treatment of detainees. Provides standards for interrogation. (Dec. 30, 2005)
  • Detainee Treatment Act removes Federal Court jurisdiction over detainees wishing to challenge the legality of their detention in court.
  • The Graham Amendment (passed by the Senate 49-42) removes the right of those designated as enemy combatants to seek habeas review in federal courts. Laws that contradict Guantanamo Bay’s Existence: The Geneva Conventions of 1949 protect against POWs.
  • It was ruled in Rasul v. Bush that Guantanamo Bay detainees are entitled to bring legal action to court in order to defend their freedom. (2004)
  • However, the case did not address the POW status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and whether the Geneva Conventions were being upheld.
  • Supreme Court rules that U.S. and international laws are being violated – the 1949 Geneva Conventions do apply to detainees. (June 29, 2006)

Organizations’ and Individuals’ Opinions on Guantanamo Bay

Many individuals and organizations have spoken out about whether Guantanamo should be closed or remain open.

Those Who Reportedly Support Closing Guantanamo Bay

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
  • President Barack Obama (though in March 2011, efforts to close Guantanamo were halted)
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
  • Amnesty International
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Those Who Reportedly Support Keeping Guantanamo Bay Open:
  • Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican presidential candidate
  • Jack Spencer, former Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst for defense and national security
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

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