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More youth at Guantánamo than U.S. claimed

June 7, 2011

Photo: four portraits of Middle East teen boys

A number of the 779 Guantanamo prisoners came to the prison as children, including these four. (Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas/photos)

Fifteen juveniles spent time as prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp — three more than the U.S. State Department had publicly acknowledged, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas reported today on its website.

The finding is based on an analysis of military documents recently made public by the transparency organization WikiLeaks.

“This new report shows that even more children have been imprisoned at Guantánamo than our earlier research revealed,” said Almerindo Ojeda, director of the center and principal investigators for its Guantanamo Testimonials Project. “This is one more reason for a full, independent, and transparent inquiry into the policies and practices of detention we have engaged in since 9/11.”

A 2008 study by the Guantánamo Testimonials Project found that the U.S. Department of State had underreported by 50 percent the number of juveniles seized and sent to Guantanamo. The State Department subsequently adjusted the number of juvenile detainees from eight to 12.

“This is three more than the 12 the State Department acknowledged to the public after our earlier report on the subject, and seven more than the eight the State Department originally reported to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child,” Ojeda said.

More details about the latest WikiLeaks information can be found in a report on the center’s website: http://tinyurl.com/3oj528h.

Ojeda and other scholars at UC Davis and beyond, as well as human rights specialists, attorneys and retired military officers, have repeatedly called for investigation into post-9/11 U.S. detention policies and practices. Referred to as the Davis Group — as it was convened by the center and the law school — their 2009 work can be found at http://tinyurl.com/3hb999k.

Thirteen of the one-time juvenile detainees who were identified in the latest WikiLeaks documents have been released. Of the other two, one is the first child in history to have been convicted of war crimes, according to Ojeda. The other is reported to have killed himself in his Guantanamo cell at age 21. Photos of the individuals are also on the website.

WikiLeaks began to release classified documents for all 779 Guantanamo prisoners in April.

The volunteer-staffed Guantánamo Testimonials Project also gathers accounts of torture of Guantánamo Bay prisoners found in news media reports, e-mails, diaries and other sources worldwide. The project has published a book, "The Trauma of Psychological Torture," that contains the proceedings of a September 2006 conference sponsored by the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, which drew psychologists, psychiatrists, neurobiologists, lawyers and historians from nine institutions in the U.S. and Germany.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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