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Guantanamo, a Frontal Attack against International Law

base navalThe permanence of the U.S. base on the Cuban territory of Guantanamo is a frontal attack on international law and human dignity, said Scholar and Expert on the topic Alfred Mauricio de Zayas.

In conversation with Prensa Latina News Agency, the professor at Geneva School of Diplomacy speaks of the treaties that gave rise to the enclave, the U.S. violations to the constituent agreements and the right of Cuba to recover that part of its territory.

"The base is a vestige of colonialism. It was not the result of a deal between equals," Zayas recalled and said that United States occupied the island in 1898 and imposed the Platt Amendment.

This is an area of 117 square kilometers, which is larger than the port of Manhattan, and is located in the southeastern extreme of Cuba, he said.

The 1903 treaty, modified 1934, stipulates that Cuba retains the sovereignty over that territory and that the base can only be used with naval purposes; however, the United States has made unauthorized use of it.

"That is a material violation of the contract, which justifies a cancelation, if applied Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties," the expert said.

"This is not even necessary to invoke the Convention because there are other compelling arguments. A sovereign country that gives a lease, always have the right to cancel it as sovereignty is more important than a treaty, if not the country would not be sovereign," he said. The professor, with a doctorate at Harvard University and has been teaching in higher education centers in several countries, remember that "principles are universal and mandatory for the entire community".

"The principles of self-determination, territorial integrity and disposition of the resources are what we call “jus cogens”, or statutory and priority right to any trade agreement."

That is the essence of the extinction of so many unequal treaties that colonial countries had imposed in Africa and Asia, he said.

That means that the Cuban people can decide what kind of government they want and how to use its territory and its riches. That is part of their self-determination, he said.

For years this enclave has been used for various purposes, away from the constituent agreements. During the First and Second World War U.S. warships came in and out and it was used for the invasion of Granada, in 1983, and Panama in 1989.

For more than 10 years a prison was set there, which has been condemned by three top UN Commissioners, by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and countless special rapporteurs there the covenant of the civil and political rights and a series of treaties in force are violated with impunity.

"Through the international press condemning is important to continue to condemn it because this is a frontal attack on international law and human dignity," he said.

He recalled that now there are 166 detainees in Guantanamo, but in 2002-2003 there were 700 people from 44 nationalities, including children aged 12, 14 and 16 years, which seriously violates Article 24 of the covenant of civil and political rights.

"I interviewed a man who was there six years. He was a journalist for Al Jazeera. He had nothing to do with the Taliban, however, was imprisoned, and even tortured," he said.

The professor says that in Guantánamo they violate a number of articles of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which state the guarantees of combatants and civilian detainees during armed conflict, respect for religion and the right to a trial, and prohibit torture, mistreatment and indefinite detention.

One of the more outrageous events was the desecration of the Koran, said the professor of the Geneva School of Diplomacy, who has published several articles on the subject, including "Guantanamo Naval Base" in the Encyclopedia of Public International Law at Oxford.

"I think they should do. We can no forget they are human beings who are suffering and in 11 years it has not been established by a competent court for trial," he said.

The International law professor considered shameful that this prison has been closed, despite the promises made by U.S. President Barack Obama.

"But not only the prison needs to be closed, he said, but the base because there is no reason for the U.S. to maintain the enclave in the sovereign territory of Cuba and against the will of its people."

Source: PL News Agency

Translation: Ilia Charon



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