Judge tells Obama to ‘directly address’ force-feedings at Guantánamo Bay

A federal judge on Monday denied a request from Guantánamo Bay detainees to stop force-feeding at the prison, but urged President Obama to do something about the issue.

Judge Gladys Kessler denied the detainee’s request for an injunction to stop the force-feedings at Guantánamo, citing the court’s lack of jurisdiction.

In her decision, the judge noted that the practice seemed to violate international law and that the president could do something to “directly address” the force-feedings.

“Even though this Court is obligated to dismiss the Application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on Petitioner's request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue,” Kessler wrote in a four-page decision.

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“The President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority — and power — to directly address the issue of force-feeding of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.”

Kessler wrote that it was “perfectly clear” from the statements of the detainees and several medical and human rights group that “force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.”

Kessler also suggested the plaintiff’s argument showed a consensus that the practice violates international law that “prohibits torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.”

Currently more than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantánamo Bay are taking part in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention at the prison. Of those, more than 40 are now being force-fed by a tube inserted through the nose.

The practice has been widely criticized — including by Obama, whose speech was quoted in Kessler’s decision.

“Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. ... Is that who we are? Is that something that our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that,” Kessler quoted from Obama’s May speech where he vowed once again to close the prison.

The Pentagon, which runs Guantánamo, has defended the force-feedings, arguing that the detainees are properly cared for by medical personnel. During the month of Ramadan, the force-feedings will only occur after sundown and before sunrise for those observing the holiday.

The practice has also been criticized by Senate Democrats, including Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLobbying frenzy connected to stimulus sparks backlash House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress Loeffler under fire for stock trades amid coronavirus outbreak MORE (D-Calif.), who wrote to the Pentagon last month asking for a re-evaluation of the policy.