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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged the United States government to close the Guantanamo detention center, as "the continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees is in clear breach of international law."
"I am deeply disappointed that the U.S. government has not been able to close Guantanamo Bay, despite repeatedly committing itself to do so," Pillay said.
"It severely undermines the United States' stance that it is an upholder of human rights, and weakens its position when addressing human rights violations elsewhere," she said.
She said as a first step, those who have been cleared for release must be released. Pillay noted that four years ago she warmly welcomed President Obama's announcement immediately after his inauguration that he was placing a high priority on closing Guantanamo and setting in motion a system to safeguard the fundamental rights of the detainees.
She welcomed a White House spokesman's reiteration of this commitment on March 27, citing congressional legislation as the prime obstacle. "Nevertheless, this systemic abuse of individuals' human rights continues year after year," she said.
"We must be clear about this: the U.S. is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold. When other countries breach these standards, the US, quite rightly, strongly criticizes them for it," she said.
She stressed that so long as Guantanamo remains open, the authorities must make every effort to ensure that detainees' rights are observed.
She also called on the U.S. government to extend an invitation which would allow full and unfettered access to the UN Human Rights Council experts, including the opportunity to meet privately with detainees.