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What is GuantáNamo Bay Detention Camp?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp, also known as Gitmo or GTMO, is a group of high security prisons or detainee centers, run by the US Military and located in Cuba at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The base was first used in the early 70s to hold refugees of Haiti and Cuba who were discovered trying to enter the US via the waters around Florida. In 1993, the US Supreme Court declared that the base couldn’t legally hold Haitian refugees in this manner, and for a time, any holding facilities were abandoned.

After 9/11 and the terrorist attacks on America, the government reestablished Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp as a holding facility for people deemed "unlawful combatants." This could include US citizens or residents, and was primarily meant to hold anyone suspected of terrorism, and the various prison camps, of which there are several, have also held people from Afghanistan and other countries who are supposed to have links to al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamic terrorist organizations.

Since the establishment of Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp for this purpose, the US and the camp has come under fire from some US citizens, from a number of human rights organizations, and from other countries. Most detainees are held without the right to legal counsel, and since they are considered unlawful combatants rather than prisoners of war, rules on the safe and humane treatment of prisoners do not have to conform to the Geneva Code. Detainees are investigated through a number of practices, which some may define as torture. This includes the practice of water-boarding, other aggressive interrogation techniques, and some denial of basic rights accorded to most US prisoners, such as allowing people to continue to live in accordance with their religious beliefs.

There have been a number of media reports of abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo, and this abuse includes chaining prisoners to beds for longer than 24 hour periods, not allowing prisoners who have been cleared of suspicion of being unlawful combatants to leave, and sexual abuse of prisoners. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that detainees should be allowed to pursue their cases in federal courts and be heard on the subject of their detention. This access has long been denied to detainees, who were only able to plead their cases in the past before military tribunals.

The debate on Guantánamo Bay has become a very politically and emotionally charged subject, and many American politicians, private citizens, leaders of foreign countries and world organizations have called for its closure. The future of the facility is dependent upon the current administration's priorities, and if they deem it necessary for national security.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a CulturalWorld.org contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon990720 — On May 06, 2015

I don't agree with you anon24982. I think everyone is conscious of what they are doing, no matter the action. They have the ability to know what is right and wrong. So I feel these monsters do not deserve to be given a second chance. That's like saying "sure you blew up a building, but we're going to give you another chance to do what's right." No, most likely that person is going to go and cause more damage to the masses.

By anon990426 — On Apr 21, 2015

Man will be punished my man's law when it is broken, and we will be judged at judgement day based on what we did and didn't repent of. Torture them for information if they resist. Only use effective methods, and not violate their body as the media says they do. If they want to kill you and me, or pretend or act like they would kill us, they need to be interrogated and then put on trial based on the facts.

By anon986316 — On Jan 24, 2015

You people need to get real. These people want us dead and will and do outrageous acts to make it happen. We are not dealing with small time felons people! These are terrorists! They have been raised to hate and kill. Open your eyes people! Come into the real world! Come out from under your rocks! When the terrorist are at your door and are killing your family will you then think different? It's a possibility, and don't think it's not. The government needs to do what it has to to to rid this earth of them. Terrorists don't play fair but we should?

I am an American and believe in the American justice system and the American way. You and I both know what really should be done with these terrorist groups. Unfortunately I think some American attitudes tend to be too politically correct when dealing with these monsters and murders. Those who have no value on life and kill innocent people and use innocent people as human bombs. They are raising their young as young as 10 years old to fight each other to the death, so they may become strong leaders and fearless fighters. This is what America is up against.

As far as their religion goes, these are extremists! They take this religion and alter it to the extreme. They add and take away from it. They make it into their own. They are very violent, and brutal. Some of you just want to sit back and play the “We Are So Unfair Card” to these poor people. Maybe some of these people at Gitmo are innocent. How many of our Americans have been innocent in detention camps? It's called life. It's going to happen, unfortunately. We are in a war. Stop making excuses for the enemy and stomping on America.

By anon931561 — On Feb 09, 2014

I feel so bad for those who have been brought to Guantanamo Bay, who actually are innocent people. I am not saying that every one in there has no guilt but they just arrest people with long beards and who look or are islamic.

Actually this religion is very beautiful, clean and legitimate and murder is also a sin like in every other religion, so I don't understand how people can believe that this religion is a bad one and that every Muslim guy is a terrorist just because some stupid idiots meant to change Islam into the way they like it and they way that it is not written in the Koran!

By anon332775 — On May 01, 2013

Very bad, very bad. Shameful. The abuse should not be done to prisoners.

By anon249820 — On Feb 23, 2012

The abuse should not be going on. Every human makes mistakes and I know you have to answer for the mistakes, but you still have a chance to be forgiven no matter what you've done.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a CulturalWorld.org contributor, Tricia...
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