Administration to Transfer 10 Guantanamo Detainees
Once Completed, Fewer than 100 Detainees to be Held for First Time Since Detention Facility Opened
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praises the reported transfer of ten detainees from Guantanamo Bay, a move that is planned for Thursday. The news comes just hours before President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address that is expected to highlight his intention to close Guantanamo before the end of his second term. Once the transfer is completed, the number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay will be fewer than 100 for the first time since the detention center was opened in January 2002.
“As long as the detention facility at Guantanamo remains open, it will undermine America’s security and status as a nation where human rights and the rule of law matter,” said Major General Michael R. Lehnert, USMC (ret.), the first commanding officer at Guantanamo Bay. “It has cost us counterterrorism cooperation with important allies, and has been propaganda tool for our enemies. As a nation we need to weigh these strategic and moral costs against any argument for keeping the prison open.”
Once the 10 transfers are completed, 34 of the 93 remaining detainees will be cleared for transfer, and another 45 are eligible for Periodic Review Board (PRB) review. During his final White House press conference of 2015, President Obama doubled down on his commitment to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before the conclusion of his second term.
“This will be an enormous milestone in the effort to close Guantanamo Bay,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “We know that Guantanamo can be closed and it should be closed. The only question now is whether President Obama has the will to follow through or if instead he will allow it to be a failure that stains his legacy.”
Thirty-two of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals have urged President Obama to submit a plan to Congress detailing actions the administration will take to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Signatories to the letter are members of a larger group of retired military leaders who have long advocated for closing Guantanamo. Many of them stood behind President Obama on his second day in office in 2009 as he signed the executive order to close Guantanamo within one year.
Human Rights First notes that PRB reviews should have been completed for every eligible detainee over 3 years ago. Detainees who are not cleared for transfer, or who will face prosecution, will likely need to be transferred to the United States in order to close Guantanamo.
In a recent Human Rights First poll conducted by Harris Interactive, two-thirds of Americans agreed that detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be sent to countries that have agreed to take them. The majority of Americans also agreed that the U.S. government can fight terrorism effectively without the Guantanamo detention center.
Human Rights First’s plan to close Guantanamo is outlined in its latest Blueprint: How to Close Guantanamo.