Ban welcomes US decision to close Guantánamo Bay detention centre

23 January 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the decision by United States President Barack Obama to begin the process of closing the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay.

Echoing a statement issued yesterday by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, Mr. Ban also hailed the new US leader’s orders to review detention policies and introduce measures to ensure lawful interrogations, as well as the Administration’s ban on certain types of interrogation.

“The United Nations has previously called for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, and is encouraged that President Obama has given the highest priority to ensuring respect for fundamental rights,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Mr. Ban also said he looks forward to working with all UN Member States to tackle terrorism “while fully respecting international human rights obligations.”

Also welcoming yesterday’s signing of the executive orders by Mr. Obama, two UN independent human rights experts stressed that the US Government should fully respect all human rights obligations, including the prohibition of torture and the non-refoulement principle that forbids removing people to countries where they could be tortured.

Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, stressed that they are prepared to lend their full support to settling outstanding issues, especially those in relation to closing the Guantánamo facilities.


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