Obama Administration Should Make Progress on Guantanamo Despite Envoy Resignation

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today calls on the Obama Administration to redouble its efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in the wake of Special Envoy Cliff Sloan’s departure from the State Department. The organization notes that in recent weeks several new transfers out of the prison have been completed.


“Despite yesterday’s announcement, we are encouraged by recent transfers and urge the Obama Administration to rededicate itself to closing the facility by the end of the president’s second term,” said Human Rights First’s Scott Cooper. “When President Obama speaks to the country during his State of the Union address next month, he should include closing Guantanamo among his priorities for the coming year.”


Just this week it was announced that four cleared Guantanamo detainees will be repatriated to Afghanistan, bringing the prison’s population down to 132. Of the remaining Guantanamo detainees, 64 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 the 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 announcement of Sloan’s resignation comes as President Obama last week signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which bans the transfer of any Guantanamo detainee to the United States. Human Rights First urges Congress to lift this prohibition. In the new year, Congress will also consider the nomination of Ash Carter as secretary of defense. In that position, Carter will take on the critical role of signing off on the transfer of detainees cleared by intelligence and national security agencies.


“As President Obama looks toward the end of his presidency, he should act quickly to fulfill one of his core promises—closing Guantanamo,” said Cooper.


For more information see Human Rights First’s blueprint, “How to Close Guantanamo.”


Published on December 23, 2014


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