US court may intervene in forced feeding of Guantánamo hunger strikers

Fifteen detainees are on a hunger strike


A US appeals court showed a potential willingness on Friday to intervene in the forced feeding of Guantánamo Bay hunger strikers, which the Obama administration says is necessary to keep order but that critics call inhumane.

At a hearing of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, two judges on a three-judge panel asked questions of a government lawyer who argued that the court had no jurisdiction at a military prison such as the US Navy base in Cuba.

While stopping short of agreeing that forced feeding is inhumane, the judges suggested that lower courts should at least allow detainees to challenge the procedure in court.

The judges gave no signs of how they would rule, and a decision is likely to be weeks or months away.

But their scepticism appeared to be a fresh challenge to the administration’s control over how it treats Guantanamo detainees.

Most US judges who have examined forced feeding in prisons have concluded that the measure may violate the rights of inmates to control their bodies and to privacy – rights rooted in the US Constitution and in common law. But they have found that the needs of operating a prison are more important.

Fifteen Guantánamo captives are on a hunger strike and all 15 have lost enough weight to be force-fed, said Navy commander John Filostrat, a spokesman for the detention camp.

The detainees receive liquid meals via tubes inserted into their noses and down into their stomachs.

At its peak in July, the latest Guantanamo hunger strike included 106 of the 166 prisoners. Of those, 46 were force-fed at least some of their meals. – ( Reuters)