Periodic Review Board Announcement Signals Progress in Effort to Close Guantanamo
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomed today’s announcement that the Department of Defense will commence Periodic Review Boards to support the “administration’s goal of closing Guantanamo Bay by… reviewing and revisiting prior detention determinations in light of the current circumstances and intelligence, and identifying whether additional detainees may be designated for transfer.”
It has been more than two years since President Obama signed an executive order establishing additional review procedures for Guantanamo detainees to determine if continued detention is warranted. “As combat operations in Afghanistan draw to a close in 2014, the United States has a responsibility to determine how it will handle the cases of remaining Guantanamo detainees. Today’s implementation of the Periodic Review Boards is a significant step toward accomplishing the administration’s goal of shuttering the detention facility,” said Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn. “President Obama has recently transferred two detainees from Guantanamo and he announced this week the appointment of Paul Lewis to be special envoy to close Guantanamo at the Pentagon. He previously appointed Cliff Sloan to be Lewis’ counterpart at the State Department and designated Lisa Monaco at the White House to oversee efforts across all agencies to close the prison. Now that the people are in place, it’s imperative that President Obama make good on his promise to close Guantanamo by the end of his second term.”
Human Rights First also welcomed news that the Pentagon will develop a web site so that the public can monitor progress of the Periodic Review Board (PRB). The organization urges the Pentagon to provide meaningful access to counsel for every detainee in the PRB process and to promote transparency by permitting official observers to witness the proceedings as it does for commission trials held at Guantanamo. Full implementation of the PRBs was among the steps recommended in Human Rights First’s July 2013 white paper, Guantanamo: A Comprehensive Exit Strategy. That document provides a roadmap for closing the facility and gives practical guidance on how to address the challenges of risk management raise by transferring detainees out of Guantanamo.
“The president has said that Guantanamo is a symbol that the U.S. flouts the rule of law. Implementation of the Periodic Review Boards is a chance for the administration to demonstrate its commitment to adhering to the rule of law through fair, thorough, and accurate proceedings that respect the principles of due process. We expect that the administration will complete all Periodic Review Boards within at most one year from the date of this announcement, though that will be small comfort for those who have been waiting for years at Guantanamo to make their cases for freedom,” concluded Osburn.