What Is Guantanamo Bay?


Quick Answer

Guantanamo Bay is a body of water at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is also the colloquial name for a military prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

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Full Answer

The southern portion of Guantanamo Bay is controlled by the United States. The United States claims that while the land belongs to Cuba, they have the right to use it as a term of the 1903 Cuban-American Treaty. The Cuban government views this treaty as invalid and the American occupation of their land as illegal, but lacks the military force to drive them out.

The prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has become infamous as a result of a number of high-profile reports of abuse. It is used to detain enemy combatants who are considered extremely dangerous, such as leaders of terror groups. In 2002, the administration of President George W. Bush determined that the detention center was not subject to the laws of the Geneva Conventions and began transporting detainees from the war in Afghanistan to the facility at Guantanamo Bay. Reports and photos began to surface that suggested detainees were being treated in cruel and unusual ways and were being interrogated in a manner that was tantamount to torture. The Supreme Court later ruled that detainees are entitled to minimal protections outlined in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

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