Five Guantanamo Detainees Transferred to Oman, Estonia
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomes the transfer of five cleared Guantanamo detainees out of the detention facility, bringing the prison’s population down to 122. While the transfers to Oman and Estonia constitute significant progress, Human Rights First notes that transfers of cleared detainees should happen at an increased pace if the prison is to close by the end of President Obama’s second term.
“I and over 50 of my colleagues who served as generals and admirals in the U.S. military have long advocated for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo as a necessary and important step toward rebuilding the reputation of the United States as a nation committed to the rule of law. We commend President Obama for his tireless efforts to transfer detainees and close this facility. Continued detention of prisoners at Guantanamo provides our enemies with a powerful propaganda weapon which they use every day to recruit forces against us,” said retired Army Lieutenant General Charles Otstott.
The transfers take place as Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), and John McCain (R-AZ), proposed legislation that would include a blanket ban on transferring detainees who, at any point, were considered a “medium” or “high” risk threat by the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo, regardless of their current threat level. The bill would also ban transfers of detainees to Yemen, and reinstate unwise transfer certification requirements that could prevent the transfer of detainees to any country in which there has been a prior confirmed case of “recidivism.”
“These five detainees were held for almost 13 years without charge, and had been cleared for transfer out of the prison at least five years ago,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “It is encouraging to see President Obama following through on his promise to end this unjust system and close down the notorious detention site, and we urge him to continue these transfers and not be deterred by the political attempts of certain Congress members to obstruct him.”
Of the remaining Guantanamo detainees, 54 have been cleared by U.S. intelligence and security agencies and should be transferred without delay. The vast majority of the other remaining detainees will face Periodic Review Board hearings-an interagency process that’s currently underway-that will assess whether they pose a significant security threat to the United States or should be cleared for transfer. Human Rights First calls on the administration to complete all of the Periodic Review Board hearings by the end of 2015.
“The governments of Oman and Estonia deserve praise for their commitment to working with the United States to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” said Eviatar. “The Obama Administration will need to act quickly to obtain security assurances from other host nations in order to transfer those detainees who have been cleared.”
For more information see Human Rights First’s blueprint, “How to Close Guantanamo” and fact sheet, “Guantanamo Recidivism Concerns Are Overblown.”