As of Monday, 106 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay met the criteria to be declared “hunger strikers.”
District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Monday that although the practice of force feeding the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay “appears to violate international law,” she does not have the authority to order the military to stop. Based on previous rulings which she claims have “already established that the court lacks jurisdiction to stop the force-feeding of prisoners during the ongoing protest,” Kessler had no choice but to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction being sought by a Syrian detainee through his attorney in Miami, Florida.
According to the Associated Press:
Kessler faulted the military’s response to the hunger strike, noting a consensus of opinion that the use of a nasogastric tube to feed the men against their will is a violation of medical ethics as well as international prohibitions against inhumane treatment.
“It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating and degrading process,” she wrote.
The judge wrote “there is an individual who has does have the authority to address the issue,” and then quoted a recent speech from Obama in which he criticized the force-feeding of the prisoners at Guantanamo as he said he would renew his efforts to close the prison.
The attorneys in this particular case have not yet decided if they will appeal the ruling by Judge Kessler. They are waiting on a decision by another judge our of the District Court in Washington who is hearing motions from the attorney’s of three other prisoners. One of those attorneys, Jon Eisenberg said:
This is quite a statement from a federal judge. She said that force feeding violates international law and medical ethics and she has called on President Obama to do something about it, which is really amazing.
Of the 106 recognized hunger strikers, medical officials for the prison have determined that 45 of those have “lost enough weight that they can be fed liquid nutrients, by force if necessary, with a nasogastric tube to prevent them from starving themselves to death.” Military officials claim that “the feeding process is not painful and only done to prevent any of the men from dying.”