Guantanamo Detainee Cleared for Transfer Signals Progress
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomes today’s announcement that Ali Ahmad al Rahizi has been cleared for transfer from Guantanamo Bay to his home country of Yemen. Al Rahizi was cleared by the Obama Administration’s Periodic Review Board (PRB), an administrative panel that determines whether continued detention is necessary for the remaining detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The organization calls on the Obama Administration to increase the pace of the review hearings so that they can be completed by the end of the year.
“Today’s announcement from the Periodic Review Boards is a positive step toward accomplishing the administration’s goal of shuttering the detention facility, but the board needs to move more quickly if it is to complete all reviews by the end of 2014, as the Obama Administration has indicated,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar.
The review board process was authorized by the Obama Administration in 2011 but delayed until November 2013. Roughly 70 detainees are eligible for the intra-agency PRB process; so far only three have appeared before the administrative board. Since the review board process began, two detainees have been cleared for transfer, Mahmud Mujahid, and now Al Rahizi.
Human Rights First also urges the Obama Administration to implement a plan to repatriate cleared Yemenis from Guantanamo Bay. Of the 77 detainees at Guantanamo already cleared by U.S. authorities for release or transfer to another country, 57 are Yemeni. Yemen’s reputation as a haven for terrorists has made it politically difficult to repatriate these detainees cleared for transfer. However, the organization notes that the improving relationship between the United States and Yemen over the last few years, most of it based on mutual support of their counterterrorism programs, provides a strong basis for the the United States and Yemeni governments to develop a plan for transfers to take place.
“It is encouraging to see progress, but in order for the president to close Guantanamo by the end of his term in office, he needs to work faster to bring the number of detainees down to zero,” concluded Eviatar.