Former Guantanamo Bay detainees wear black hoods during a protest

Debate: Should the hunger-striking detainees in Guantanamo Bay be force-fed to keep them alive?

Share
Related Topics

 

What's going on?

Medical personnel have been sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to assist with the force-feeding of inmates who have been refusing food on the grounds of alleged mishandling of their Korans by guards and their detainment without trial in the notorious prison camp.

100 of the 166 held in Guantanamo by the US are currently on hunger-strike, with at least 21 already being force-fed, and 40 medical reinforcements have been dispatched from America to help keep the strikers alive.

President Obama defended the military's actions: "I don't want these individuals to die", he said.

But are the US right to prevent the prisoners from refusing food?

Case for: Humane

It might be a wretchedly drawn-out one, but hunger-striking is a suicide attempt, and guards are right to prevent prisoners from killing themselves. Imagine if US officials let these men die: their position would turn from morally questionable to simply indefensible, having let people starve to death waiting for trial or repatriation that might never have arrived. Failure to keep these men alive is, from a humanitarian perspective, abhorrent. Force-feeding might be ugly, but the alternative, death en masse, is far worse.

Case against: Torture

Presumably one reason the US is force-feeding these men is so that they face justice. But does anyone see justice, or the prospect of it, in Guantanamo? And if that can be ruled out as a defence, what is left? America's sense of squeamishness? Finally, the UN Commission for Human Rights said only yesterday force-feeding is ethically and legally unjustifiable: it is painful (tubes can go in through the nose or hand), so counts as torture - and it degrades the recipient, who is in full possession of their senses, so deserves to have their bodily integrity respected.

The Guantanamo prisoners should be force-fed

Read Next
 

Dear Nick: a personal letter to my wonderful husband

Rebecca Armstrong
Because measles spreads so easily, 95 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated  

Measles outbreak: Andrew Wakefield didn’t cause the MMR panic without the help of journalists

Will Gore
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?