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Close Guantanamo now, UN tells White House

A UN report is expected to call on the United States to close its Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba without delay and transfer the near-500 supp osed \"enemy combatants\" held there to American soil to guarantee them access to fair trials. A leaked draft of the document, written over 18 months by five independent experts in international law appointed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, says the inmates at Guantanamo are being denied their rights to mental and physical health to a degree that sometimes amounts to torture. The draft, reported by the Los Angeles Times, raises particular concern about the treatment of inmates on hunger strike, which involves forcible insertion of feeding tubes through the nasal cavity and into the stomach, excessive violence during transportation and interrogation techniques that \"must be assessed as amounting to torture\". The US has come under a barrage of international criticism over its operations at Guantanamo Bay. More than 750 people have been detained there since 2002. They are designated by the US as \"enemy combatants\" and denied all legal rights, including access to lawyers. The International Red Cross is the only organisation given access to them, but it is forbidden to report publicly on their condition. Last November, the US administration offered the five UN experts a tour of the centre similar to those periodically organised for reporters and members of the US Congress. They declined after they were told they would not be able to interview prisoners. The UN experts believe the primary reason for the US to keep the prisoners at Guantanamo is for interrogation. Techniques employed by the US that are seen by the experts as crossing the line into torture include long periods of solitary confinement for prisoners, exposure to extremes of temperature and forced shaving and other humiliations that contravene captives\' religious beliefs. The British Government is facing pressure to secure the release of nine British residents who are still being held in Guantanamo Bay. The men, many of whom have been granted political asylum, have lived in Britain for many years, but have not been granted citizenship even though some have British wives and children. Twenty MPs, including a dozen Labour backbenchers, have signed a Parliamentary motion demanding the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and denouncing the detention of its 520 inmates as \"a symbol of injustice and abuse in the US administration\'s war on terror\".