Periodic Review Board Decision Clears Way for Guantanamo Detainee For Transfer

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First is calling today’s decision by the Periodic Review Board to clear for transfer a Guantanamo detainee previously held without charge a step in the right direction with regard to fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo.

“This is just the first of many reviews that must take place in order to finally close Guantanamo,” said Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn. “It is our expectation that all reviews be completed by the end of this year, and that all detainees cleared for transfer be sent home or resettled in third countries. In order to keep up with this goal, President Obama must vastly increase the pace of the review process.”

The board ruled that Mahmoud Abdulaziz Al-Mujahid, a Yemeni citizen, no longer poses a significant threat to U.S. national security and is now cleared for transfer. The case is the first to undergo review by the Periodic Review Board, established by executive order in March 2011. The Periodic Review Board consists of members of U.S. national security agencies who are tasked with reviewing the case files of detainees and determining whether circumstances or new evidence compels changing the status of the detainee under review.

Today’s announcement comes just weeks after President Obama signed into law the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which replaced the confusing and cumbersome foreign transfer restrictions that the Obama Administration had said complicated the transfers of detainees to their home or third countries.

Human Rights First notes that as the United States ends combat operations in Afghanistan, it is incumbent upon the United States to make lawful dispositions of all law of war detainees. Human Rights First has long maintained that the Periodic Review Board could play a critical role in resolving some of the outstanding cases.

There are 155 men held at Guantanamo. There had been 76 men cleared for release, and that now increases to 77 men. Of those cleared for transfer, 56 are from Yemen. There are 70 additional detainees who are likely to undergo review by the Periodic Review Board.


Published on January 9, 2014


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