Guantanamo Periodic Review Board Examines Case of Yemeni National

By Adelma Jakupovic

The Guantanamo Bay Periodic Review Board(PRB) convened yesterday morning to assess whether Yemeni national Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz al-Shamiri, a Gitmo detainee for almost 14 years, can be cleared for release.

Afghan forces captured Al-Shamiri in 2001. The government claims he was a member of al Qaeda and received militant training in both Yemen and Afghanistan. Al-Shamiri also allegedly participated in military operations against the United States and its coalition partners. Since January 2010, the Guantanamo Review Task Force has recommended him for continued detention at Guantanamo.

At yesterday’s hearing, al-Shamiri did not have legal counsel, but was represented by two personal representatives. To try to show that he is not a threat to the United States, they emphasized his willingness to work cooperatively with detainees and staff. During the course of his nearly 14-year detention, al-Shamiri received few disciplinary infractions. In his recent role as a block leader, he was frequently commended for resolving daily detainee issues.

Al-Shamiri’s personal representatives also said al-Shamiri feels a deep sense of regret for his mistakes. He acknowledges that he chose the wrong path and says he is ready to put it behind him. This contradicts the government’s assertion that al-Shamiri claimed he is willing to remain at Guantanamo indefinitely. His representatives stated that he wants to move forward, get married, and get an education so that he can provide for his future wife and family. In fact, he has taken classes and is learning skills to make his transition after Guantanamo easier.

In response to the government’s concern that repatriating Al-Shamiri to Yemen may result in exposure to extremism, his representatives noted that he is eager to be transferred to any country willing to accept him. Although he may not be reunited with his family in Yemen, they will still provide him with emotional, spiritual, and financial support.

Even if al-Shamiri is cleared for release, he’s unlikely to be transferred any time soon. Forty-eight of the remaining 107 detainees have been cleared for transfer but still remain in Gitmo, including those cleared during the Bush administration. If President Obama wants to fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo, he must increase the frequency of PRB hearings and transfers.

See Human Rights First’s blueprint “How to Close Guantanamo” for a detailed outline of how President Obama can close Guantanamo before the end of his term.

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Published on December 2, 2015

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