Four Years After Executive Order, Reviews of Guantanamo Detainees Moving Far Too Slowly

Washington, D.C.—Saturday, March 7, marks the four-year anniversary of President Obama’s Executive Order governing periodic reviews of Guantanamo detainees. Reviews, which are to determine whether a detainee warrants continued detention, were supposed to be conducted within one year of the order, but four years later they have just barely begun.

To mark this anniversary, Rear Admiral John Hutson (ret.), former Judge Advocate General of the Navy has issued the following statement:

“The administration needs to energize the periodic review process and commit to providing the necessary resources to complete these hearings. Determining whether detainees are a continued threat or can be released is one of the most important steps toward closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Closing the prison is essential for reestablishing our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and respect for human rights, as well as rebuilding key relationships with allies around the world.”

On March 7, 2011, President Obama signed an executive order establishing additional review procedures for Guantanamo detainees. The review procedures, consisting of an initial hearing with an interagency Periodic Review Board (PRB), were to have begun immediately after the executive order was signed. The reviews did not actually begin until November 2013, and only 14 reviews for 13 detainees have been conducted so far. Fifty-one detainees are still awaiting their first review by the administrative board.

The Obama Administration has not provided sufficient resources to move the periodic reviews along at an efficient and effective pace. At the current rate, the detainees’ initial reviews will not be completed until 2020.

Meanwhile, the administration retains substantial authority to transfer the 55 Guantanamo detainees who have been unanimously cleared for transfer out of the detention facility by the interagency Guantanamo detainee review taskforce, which includes all the relevant security and intelligence agencies. Human Rights First continues to urge the administration to prioritize closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by rapidly increasing transfers of detainees cleared for release and by completing PRB hearings by the end of 2015.

For additional details on the Periodic Review Board and on a practical path towards closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, see Human Rights First’s recent blueprint on How to Close Guantanamo. To speak with Rear Admiral Hutson, please contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or 202-370-3319.


Published on March 6, 2015


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