SRRT Resolutions 2008: Resolution on Guantanamo & the Rights of Prisoners to Read

Text of 2008 SRRT resolution, adopted at ALA Annual Conference, in support of the rights of prisoners in Guantanamo to read.

Resolution on Guantanamo & the Rights of Prisoners to Read

This Resolution was adopted by SRRT on Monday, June 30, 2008 in Anaheim, CA.

WHEREAS, the United States is maintaining a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where torture and abuse of prisoners has been documented and is suspected to be ongoing due to the refusal of U.S. officials to permit independent prison inspections by organizations such as Amnesty International;

WHEREAS, the American Library Association (ALA) is on record as having condemned “the use or threat of use of torture as a barbarous violation of human rights, intellectual freedom and the rule of law”;

WHEREAS, lawyers representing prisoners of Guantanamo Bay report that the prisoners have been denied access to books, magazines and other reading materials;

WHEREAS, international law, as codified by the Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, has long held that “belligerents shall encourage as much as possible the organization of intellectual and sporting pursuits by the prisoners of war” (1929, Pt. III, Section II, Chapter 4, Article 17), and “shall encourage the practice of intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits…and shall take the measures necessary to ensure the exercise thereof by providing them with adequate premises and necessary equipment.” (1949, Pt. III, Section II, Chapter 5, Article 38);

WHEREAS, the ALA recognizes the right of prisoners to library services in jails and other detention facilities;

WHEREAS, the ALA recognizes prisoners’ right to read;

WHEREAS, ALA recognizes Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression” including the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”;

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court recently recognized the rights of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo to legal representation in accordance with the United States Constitution and international law; and

WHEREAS, international calls, such as that by the European Parliament in 2006, have been issued over the course of several years for the prison to be shut-down; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association

1. calls on the President of the United States to begin the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;

2. strongly urges that, until such time that the prison is closed, all prisoners shall immediately be afforded the right to read and supplied with materials enabling them to do so by the United States Department of Defense and its libraries; and

3. recognizes that all people imprisoned as a result of the belligerent acts of the United States and other warring entities be afforded with all rights described by the Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and any other rules of law pertaining to the humane treatment of prisoners.