Over two-thirds of the detainees in the Guantanamo Bay prison are suffering from or at risk of mental problems because they are kept isolated in small cells with little light or fresh air, according to Human Rights Watch.
In a report entitled “Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo”, the group says 185 of the 270 detainees at the US military prison for terrorism suspects are housed in facilities similar to “supermax” prisons.
They spend 22 hours alone in cramped cells, have very limited contact with other human beings and are given little more than the Koran to occupy themselves, said the report, which is based interviews with government officials and attorneys.
“Guantanamo detainees who have not even been charged with a crime are being warehoused in conditions that are in many ways harsher than those reserved for the most dangerous, convicted criminals in the United States,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch.
More than six years after the United States began sending terrorism suspects to the naval base in Cuba, not a single case has gone to trial.
The Human Rights Watch report says that even the two hours of recreation time afforded the prisoners in Guantanamo generally takes place in single-cell cages so that detainees cannot physically interact with one another.