Catholic bishops call upon US to close Guantanamo prison

politics | Jun 26, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

Catholic Bishop Richard E Pates of Iowa, who serves as the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Catholic bishops, called on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to "conduct a careful review of conditions for detainees" held at the US Navy facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He called on Hagel to release the 86 who have been cleared for departure. He also urged Hagel to "make good on the President's commitment to close this facility that has become a symbol of indefinite detention without trial." So far, President Obama has not fulfilled his 2008 promise to close the prison at Guantanamo, despite repeated calls from human rights organizations, foreign governments, and even former campaign volunteers.
 
"Detainees have the right to a just and fair trial held in a timely manner," wrote Bishop Pates. "The indefinite detention of detainees is not only injurious to those individuals, it also wounds the moral reputation of our nation, compromises our commitment to the rule of law, and undermines our struggle against terrorism." He also  cited reports of forced feedings of prisoners on hunger strike as a reason for concern. The bishop suggested addressing "the conditions of despair that have led to this protest."
 
Finally, Bishop Pates also noted the Catholic bishops' statement following the 9/11 attacks, that "We must not only act justly but be perceived as acting justly if we are to succeed in winning popular support against terrorism."
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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