Guantanamo Detainee Repatriated to Mauritania
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Ould And al Aziz to his home country of Mauritania, but notes that the pace of transfers must increase if the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is to close by the end of President Obama’s term in office. Aziz spent over thirteen years in U.S. custody without being charged with a crime and was cleared for transfer in 2009.
Today’s transfer comes just one week after President Obama vetoed the 2016 defense authorization bill over provisions that would severely hamper his ability to close Guantanamo Bay.
“In order to close Guantanamo, Obama must stand firm on his veto and not sign into law any legislation that would keep Guantanamo open past his presidency,” noted Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “In the meantime, he should be using all the tools available to him to immediately transfer those detainees who have been unanimously cleared for release.”
There are 113 detainees at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. Military leaders and national security experts agree that the facility harms national security and should be closed. Fifty-three of the remaining detainees are cleared for transfer, and another 47 are eligible for PRB review.
“The administration continues to drag their feet while 53 detainees cleared for transfer languish in Guantanamo Bay,” said Wala. “Obama pledged to the American people that he would close the facility because it hurts our national security and is inconsistent with American values. And yet nearly seven years later, he has failed to fulfill that promise.”
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. While current federal law blocks transfers of detainees to the United States for any purpose, President Obama has threatened to veto any legislation that would prevent his administration from closing Guantanamo.
Human Rights First’s plan to close Guantanamo is outlined in its latest Blueprint: How to Close Guantanamo.