Administration Repatriates Guantanamo Bay Detainee
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomes today’s reports that the Obama Administration has transferred an Algerian detainee from Guantanamo Bay. The organization notes that the transfer reduces the Guantanamo population to 154 men and is a step in the right direction as the administration works to bring the number of Guantanamo detainees down to zero.
“The transfer of Ahmed Bin Saleh Belbacha is a positive sign that the administration will continue to make it a priority to close Guantanamo Bay,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “President Obama pledged during the State of the Union that it is his goal to close the detention facility by the end of this year – he needs to move quickly and increase the pace of these transfers if he is to meet that deadline.”
There are more than 70 detainees who have long been cleared by U.S. intelligence and security agencies, but who have had their transfers blocked by congressionally-enacted transfer bans. The vast majority of the remaining detainees will face Periodic Review Boards, an interagency process recently reinstated, that will of assess whether the remaining men pose any remaining significant security threat to the United States. Human Rights First calls on the administration to complete all of the administrative board hearings by the end of this year.
Human Rights First notes that today’s announcement comes as Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, is set to appear before the Senate Armed Services committee, where he is expected to testify as to the increasing costs at Guantanamo Bay as well as difficulties that will occur with the aging detainee population.
“While there have been welcome signs of progress in whittling down the number of Guantanamo detainees, the administration must now double down on obtaining security assurances from host nations for those detainees who have been cleared for transfer,” said Wala.