Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees to Uruguay Sign of Progress
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed the transfer of six cleared Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay, bringing the prison’s population down to 136. The transfer constitutes significant progress, though the organization notes that transfers of cleared detainees must happen at an increased pace if the prison is to close by the end of the president’s second term.
“Transferring these detainees to Uruguay represents important progress as the Obama Administration works to bring the number of Guantanamo detainees down to zero,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “All six detainees have been unanimously cleared for transfer by all agencies and departments responsible for national security; President Obama needs to double down on transfers if he is to fulfill his promise to close the facility by the end of his second term.”
Today’s transfers come only days after President Obama nominated Ashton Carter to serve as the new Secretary of Defense. Human Rights First has urged Carter to heed the advice of national security experts who agree that closing Guantanamo should be one of the Pentagon’s top priorities for the next two years. As secretary of defense, Carter will be responsible for signing off on transfers for cleared detainees.
Of the remaining Guantanamo detainees, 67 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 government of Uruguay deserves praise for their commitment to working with the United States to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” said Wala. “In order to meet President Obama’s self-imposed deadline to close the prison, the administration will need to act quickly to obtain security assurances from other host nations in order to transfer those detainees who have been cleared.”
For more information see Human Rights First’s blueprint “Guantanamo: A Comprehensive Exit Strategy.