Closing Guantanamo will Restore U.S. Leadership on Human Rights
New York, NY – Elisa Massimino, Executive Director of Human Rights First, responded to reports today that President-elect Obama has begun to craft plans to close the Guantanamo prison:
“By announcing his intention to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and bring to justice suspected terrorists held there, President-elect Obama would send an important message that the United States will again be a global leader on human rights.
While commendable that the President-elect is signaling his willingness to tackle these challenges head on, how and where suspected terrorists are prosecuted is critically important to restoring America’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
Based on a thorough investigation of U.S. terrorism trials and exhaustive research into the steps necessary to close the prison at Guantanamo Human Rights First believes that the federal criminal justice system has proven itself highly adaptable to the challenges of prosecuting complex terrorism cases.
Among the many lessons learned from the misguided Guantanamo episode is the danger of trying to create new ad hoc justice systems. Since 2002, only two military commission trials have been completed at Guantanamo, and those trials focused more attention on the deeply flawed commission processes than on the alleged crimes of the defendants. In contrast, since 9/11, more than 100 international terrorism cases have been prosecuted in the federal courts where judges have successfully balanced the need to protect sensitive national security information with defendants