Human dignity denied at Guantanamo: Cardinal Martino

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, criticised American treatment of some 500 inmates at the Guantanamo Bay naval base prison, the Catholic News Agency reports.

Cardinal Martino visited the Caribbean island to attend celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the first bishops' conference allowed following the Cuban revolution. He also held talks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

"It seems clear that human dignity is not being fully respected in that prison," Cardinal Renato Martino said of the Guantanamo camp on his return from the visit to Cuba.

"Is not the trampling of man's dignity a violation of human rights? Everyone has a right to a fair trial. Wherever in the world inmates are being held in such conditions, without even knowing the charges they face, we will not fail to defend them," he said.

"I would like to stress that even those who have committed crimes are still human beings and as such their dignity must be respected".

The camp was set up in 2002 to hold foreign terror suspects, many of them captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among the detainees is David Hicks, formerly of Adelaide, who has been at Guantanamo since his capture in Afghanistan in late 2001, accused of links to al-Qaeda.

The treatment of Guantanamo prisoners has provoked complaints from human rights groups. Only a few of the inmates have been formally charged with any crime.

Human dignity not being fully respected in Guantanamo prison says Cardinal Martino (Catholic News Agency 3/3/06)
Vatican raps US treatment of Guantanamo detainees (Catholic World News 3/3/06)
Guantanamo 'sets dangerous precedent' (Agence France-Presse/Herald-Sun 6/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace

Campaigners walk across Cuba to visit Guantanamo prisoners (CathNews 8/12/05)
Bishop says Govt must ensure justice for Hicks (CathNews 22/9/05)
Hicks and Habib focus of bishop's Human Rights Day message (CathNews 10/12/04)
Catholics lobby says Guantanamo report shows Govt denying democratic freedoms (CathNews 20/9/04)
Council urges Govt to insist on human rights at Guantanamo Bay (CathNews 10/12/03)
Bishop says Govt can do more for Hicks and Habib (13/11/03)
Press Council backs church official on unfair "traitor" headline (CathNews 14/11/03)

6 Mar 2006