U.N. human rights investigators said Thursday they had reliable accounts of detainees being tortured at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but the United States had not responded to repeated requests to check conditions there.
``The time is up,'' one investigator said.
The four independent specialists told reporters that U.N. experts had made numerous requests since early 2002 to check on the conditions of terror suspects at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba, as well as at U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
They cited ``information, from reliable sources, of serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violations of their right to health and their due process rights.
``Many of these allegations have come to light through declassified (U.S.) government documents,'' said a statement from the four, who report to U.N. bodies on different human rights issues.
A U.S. spokeswoman said the experts' request to visit Guantanamo was being reviewed in Washington.
The four experts are appointed to their three-year terms by the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission, the global body's top rights watchdog. They are unpaid for their work, although their expenses are paid.
The United States has criticized the commission because its members include countries with tyrannical governments and poor human rights records, but the experts operate autonomously, often criticizing their own countries and others in the commission.
The failure of the United States to respond is leading the experts to conclude that Washington has something to hide, said the specialist on torture, Manfred Nowak, a professor of international law in Vienna, Austria.
``At a certain point, you have to take well-founded allegations as proven in the absence of a clear explanation by the government,'' he said, though he also noted: ``We are not making a judgment if torture or treatment under degrading conditions has taken place.''