Force-feedings at Guantanamo Bay prison camp are being challenged in court. An appeals court panel took on the case from attorney Jon Eisenberg, who hopes to halt the forced feedings of 15 prisoners at the camp.
Eisenberg acknowledged that a ruling in his favor “may lead to death” for his clients, who are protesting their indefinite detention at the US facility.
USA Today reports that Eisenberg told the three-judge panel how authorities are force-feeding detainees before their lives are at risk. All 15 men who are still participating in a hunger strike are approved for the practice, which involves strapping them down and feeding them a liquid nutrient mix through a nasal tube.
In one of his briefs, Eisenberg noted that a federal appeals court in California recently banned the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese to produce fois gras. He wrote, “The irony of protecting ducks and geese from a practice that is inflicted on human beings at Guantanamo Bay speaks volumes.”
The brief didn’t come up during Friday’s hearing. Instead, Eisenberg took the stance that authorities are jumping the gun at the prison camp by force-feeding prisoners whose lives aren’t in danger, notes The Huffington Post. While he stated that he believes all force-feeding is unconstitutional, he would be willing to seek a middle ground.
In response, Justice Department lawyer Daniel Lenerz stated that force-feeding should be allowed at Guantanamo because hunger strikes were disrupting the operation of the detention facility. In response, Judge Thomas Beall Griffith commented, “Is that your trump card, as long as you use that, it’s the end of your inquiry?”
Guantanamo’s hunger strike began earlier this year and involved more than 100 detainees at one point. While military authorities stopped releasing hunger strike counts, the latest report said 15 inmates were still involved. Two lower court judges already turned down challenges to the force-feedings, saying they don’t have jurisdiction in the case.
The case attracted a standing-room only crowd, including several activists who later participated in a protest on the courthouse steps against the Guantanamo force-feedings.
[Image by Jon Soucy via Wikimedia Commons]