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US judge allows force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoner to continue

By | Last updated: May 30, 2014 - 2:26:49 PM

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A U.S. federal judge on Thursday (May 22) lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped the US military from force-feeding a hunger-striking prisoner at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said she would not reissue a temporary order from last week that stopped the military from force-feeding Syrian prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab because of the “very real probability that Mr. Dhiab will die.”

Kessler said she faced a “Hobson’s choice” of either reissuing a halt to the practices, which risked Dhiab dying, or allow medical personnel to take action to keep him alive at the possible cost of “great pain and suffering.”

Dhiab’s lawyers are seeking an order that would end force-feeding because they say it amounts to torture and the speed at which liquid is forced down prisoner’s throat is some form of water torture that simulates drowning, similar to water-boarding.


Earlier this week, Kessler said she urged the U.S. Justice Department and Dhiab’s lawyers to reach a compromise on the procedure used to feed Dhiab, but that the Defense Department has “refused to make these compromises.”

On Wednesday (May 21), Kessler told the US Justice Department to turn over 34 videos of Dhiab’s force-feeding sessions, as well as his 2013 medical records.

Prisoners at the Guantanamo have engaged in hunger strikes for years, but only won the right to challenge force-feeding in U.S. courts in February. U.S. officials no longer disclose how many of the 154 prisoners at the base are on hunger strike and meet the guidelines for force-feeding.

In January, Amnesty International condemned the U.S. for its continued operation of Guantanamo. It said the torture of detainees at the prison is a prime example of America’s double standard on human rights.

Amnesty also denounced U.S. President Barack Obama for refusing to shut down Guantanamo as he had promised in 2009 when he first came to office.