Administration to Transfer 17 Guantanamo Bay Detainees
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised the Obama Administration for its decision to transfer 17 Guantanamo detainees out of the facility by the end of January 2016, a move which would bring the prison’s population down to 90. The organization said in addition to this significant progress, the administration should speed up the pace of transfers and administrative reviews if the detention facility is to be closed by the end of President Obama’s second term in office.
“It is encouraging to see President Obama take decisive action toward transferring these detainees—who have been cleared for transfer by all relevant national security agencies—out of the detention facility,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “But the simple fact remains that the president needs to continue making this a priority if he intends to follow through on his promise to shutter Guantanamo before he leaves office.”
Once these transfers are completed, there will be 90 detainees at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, marking the first time the facility’s population has fallen below 100 since it was opened in January 2002 . Military leaders and national security experts agree that the facility harms national security and should be closed. Forty-eight of the remaining detainees are cleared for transfer, and another 46 are eligible for Periodic Review Board (PRB) PRB review.
Last month 32 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals 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.
“By releasing a plan for how to close Guantanamo, the administration would signal that the president intends to treat this issue as the national security priority it is,” noted Eviatar.
Human Rights First’s plan to close Guantanamo is outlined in its latest Blueprint: How to Close Guantanamo.