HRW, Locked Up Alone ("B")
B, a 46-year-old man, was transported to Guantanamo in 2002 where he has been ever since.
B is now being held in Camp 6. Previously, he spent close to two years in Camp 5.
Although B had no pre-existing history of psychiatric illness, his lawyers report that prolonged and isolated confinement has had a devastating impact on his mental health. Over the course of his incarceration, he has become increasingly depressed, which has been worsened by an increasing feeling of guilt, as he has come to believe that his detention is a punishment from God for his minor personal misdeeds and failings.
B’s lawyers report that he has begun to hallucinate, hearing voices or noises and seeing images that are not there. At times he reportedly beats his head against the wall.91
Out of concern for B’s health, his lawyers arranged for a psychiatrist who had once been recruited to work for the Department of Defense and has visited the detention facility in Guantanamo, to perform two proxy psychiatric assessments—one in 2005 and one in 2007.92 (The US would not allow the psychiatrist to return to Guantanamo to do the examination in person.) The results were alarming:
Mr. [B]’s psychiatric symptoms have expanded and worsened in the past two years. He now appears to meet the clinical criteria for both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder with Mood Congruent Psychotic Features. These disorders represent both a quantitative and qualitative worsening of his condition. They are major anxiety and mood disorders, respectively, and are serious mental illnesses. As a result of his continued detention, isolation, and maltreatment, he has begun to lose touch with reality (become psychotic) in addition to experiencing an expanding array of painful and incapacitating psychiatric symptoms.
The psychiatrist concluded that as long as B’s conditions of confinement remain the same, his psychiatric condition will likely deteriorate further, leading to an increased risk of suicide.93
To make matters worse, B, whose eyesight has significantly deteriorated during the time he has been in Guantanamo, has been told by a Guantanamo doctor that there is nothing they can do and that he will eventually go blind. B also reportedly suffers from extreme stomach pain, persistent migraines, and recurring kidney stones.
He has never been allowed to speak to his family during the more than six years he has been in US custody.94
90. Name and nationality withheld at attorney’s request.
91. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Stephen H. Oleskey, attorney for B, May 12, 2008.
92. The psychiatrist’s name has been withheld at the request of B’s attorney.
93. Letter from psychiatrist to attorney Stephen H. Oleskey, January 29, 2008, p. 2 (copy on file with Human Rights Watch).
94. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Stephen H. Oleskey, May 19, 2008.
Source: Human Rights Watch, Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo. June, 2008, pp. 36f.