January 11, 2013, marks the 11th anniversary of the day detainees were first brought to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The National Defense Authorization Act 2013 (NDAA) recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama does little to shut down the Guantanamo prison, though the President had promised to close it almost four years ago.
For all the controversy over whether solitary confinement should ever be used in American prisons and jails, the evidence is clear: Isolation for 23 hours a day causes severe and often irreversible psychological damage.
On Sept. 25, PHR joined a group of international human rights experts and organizations in filing an amicus brief on an appeal before the Spanish Supreme Court. The case seeks to hold accountable six senior legal advisers in the Bush administration who allegedly facilitated the torture and abuse of people detained at Guantánamo and other detention sites overseas.
Most immigrants detained in America’s sprawling immigration detention system stay for only a short time – an average of about 30 days – before being deported. But for those who choose to fight to stay in the United States – including asylum seekers, long-term undocumented residents, and green card holders who have strong family and community ties – detention can last for many months, sometimes even years.
PHR and TASSC International held a briefing at the Capitol entitled “Psychological Torture in Detention” in recognition of Torture Awareness Month. The discussion centered on the use of psychological torture on individuals in detention through practices such as prolonged indefinite detention and abusive solitary confinement.