UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Guantánamo: The USA must turn its back on international symbol of injustice

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13 Jan 2016
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Fight Against Terrorism and Human Rights

The US Congress’ obstruction to shutting the detention center at Guantánamo Bay risks placing the US alongside countries who consistently disregard internationally agreed standards of justice and human rights, said Amnesty International ahead of the 14th anniversary of the first transfers to the detention center.

"Guantánamo remains open because politicians are exploiting the public’s genuine fear of terror attacks. Instead of identifying effective and legal measures to prevent attacks, members of Congress are busy playing politics with the lives of dozens of men who could die behind bars without ever facing a trial,” said Naureen Shah, Director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights Programme.

"Guantánamo has become an international symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial. Closing Guantánamo doesn't just mean moving prisoners to another detention site and turning out the lights at the prison. It means ending these practices altogether and providing accountability for past abuses.

There are currently 105 detainees held in the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba -- 47 of whom have been cleared for transfer yet remain behind bars. 

When President Barack Obama came to power in January 2009, he signed an executive order for the closure of the infamous detention center within a year. Seven years later, Guantánamo is still open. The Obama administration has hinted at a plan to close the detention camp by moving some detainees into the United States for continued indefinite detention.

"President Obama's proposal to relocate some detainees for indefinite detention in the US would merely change Guantánamo's zip code. It would also set a dangerous precedent that could be exploited by future administrations. President Obama must end, not relocate, indefinite detention without charge,” said Naureen Shah.

"The population at Guantánamo can be substantially reduced by transferring the dozens of detainees who have already been approved for transfer. The Pentagon should have clear orders from the president to expedite transfers to other countries that are deemed safe.

"Detainees who cannot be transferred should be charged in federal court or released and investigations should be expanded into reports of torture and other human rights violations suffered by detainees.” 

"President Obama has just one year left in office to make good on his commitment to close Guantánamo. His human rights legacy, and that of the nation, are on the line. It won't be easy, but President Obama can and must come through."

11 January 2016

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