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Guantánamo lawyers banned from bringing detainees fast food and treats

One lawyer called the move “Petty and nasty.”

File photo of a Guantanamo Bay detainee. Associated Press Associated Press

US AUTHORITIES HAVE ended the long-standing practice of lawyers bringing McDonald’s and other special treats to detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

An order, signed by US Navy Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad, goes into effect today, and bans eating during legal meetings:

Bottled water will be made available and may be brought into meeting spaces. Individual containers of coffee, tea or juice may be brought into meeting spaces.
Food of any kind, other than that provided by guard force personnel for Detainee consumption, is prohibited within meeting spaces.

For the past decade, lawyers have routinely brought inmates Big Macs and other treats from restaurants located on the base, as well as traditional Middle Eastern food.

For some, it was a gesture of humanity to prisoners who for years were in legal limbo or denied the protection of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war, despite being detained as part of the US-led War on Terror.

Almost half of the inmates, 57 out of 122, have been cleared for release, many for years, and some have gone on hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention without charge.

Cuba Guantanamo 10th Anniversary File photo of detainees in Camp Six at Guantanamo Bay. Associated Press Associated Press

Alka Pradhan, a London-based human rights lawyer, told the Miami Herald she has brought prisoners Egg McMuffins and fresh fruit, and called the rule change “petty and nasty.”

It’s actually quite tragic for the clients. Sometimes the food we bring is the only thing from the outside world they’ve seen in months, and they really look forward to it

Shane Kadidal, a lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights, acknowledged that normal prisons don’t allow lawyers to bring inmates food, but added:

[Guantánamo] is the exact opposite of a normal prison.

The order, which was signed on 14 May, also forbids napping during legal meetings.

If guard force personnel observe any person sleeping during a meeting, the guard force will issue a warning.
If anyone is observed sleeping during a meeting after a warning has been issued, the meeting will be terminated.

On his first day in the White House in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order to shut down the US Naval base, on the island of Cuba.
Under his watch, 116 inmates have been transferred, sent home, resettled elsewhere, including two in Ireland, but Guantánamo remains open.

Read: The CIA misled the White House and used ineffective, brutal interrogations>

Opinion: What my years as a military defence lawyer in Guantánamo forced me to see>

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