Judge Likens Gitmo Hunger Strike to Suicide

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Guantanamo detainees “who wish to starve themselves, perhaps to death,” cannot do so under Uncle Sam’s watch, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Juge Rosemary Collyer issued identical opinions and orders Tuesday against the petitions of Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab and Ahmed Belbacha.
     The trio had petitioned alongside a fourth detainee, Jihad Dhiab, but a different federal judge denied relief to Dhiab last week.
     Though Dhiab’s petition had given U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ethical pause, she found that the court lacked jurisdiction to interfere.
     Kessler nevertheless condemned the force-feeding practices at Guantanamo as “a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.”
     Judge Collyer found otherwise, noting that “there is nothing so shocking or inhumane in the treatment of petitioners – which they can avoid at will – to raise a constitutional concern that might otherwise necessitate review.”
     “Although framed as a motion to stop feeding via nasogastric tube, petitioners’ real complaint is that the United States is not allowing them to commit suicide by starvation,” Collyer wrote.
     “As his custodian, the United States cannot ‘allow’ any person held in custody to starve himself to death,” she added. “Whatever the medical ethics for a person at liberty, the United States as custodian has additional obligations. Numerous courts have recognized the government’s affirmative duty to prevent suicide and to provide life-saving nutritional and medical care to persons in custody.”
     The 15-page ruling further notes that no detainee has been administered Reglan, a drug that suppresses vomiting, and may trigger seizures, convulsions or other muscle movement disorders.
     Guantanamo officers furthermore have adjusted meal times, including “enteral feeding,” so as not to interfere with the observance of Ramadan, Collyer added.

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