Two Guantanamo Detainees Transferred to Balkans

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First praises the transfer of two detainees, Tariq el Sawah and Abdelaziz al Swidi, from Guantanamo Bay, but notes that the pace of transfers must increase if the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is to close by the end of President Obama’s term in office. A third detainee was scheduled for transfer but refused to leave the base.

“As the Obama Administration makes notable progress in reducing the population of Guantanamo Bay, the president should also make public his plans for closing the facility once and for all,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “Last week in the State of the Union address President Obama reiterated his commitment to shutter Guantanamo Bay, but those are simply words until a plan is released.”

Sawah was transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and al Swidi was sent to Montenegro. Human Rights First praises the two governments for their humanitarian gesture in accepting detainees.

Last week ten detainees were transferred, a move that brought the detention facility’s population below 100 for the first time since Guantanamo opened in January 2002. 36 of the remaining detainees are cleared for transfer, and another 44 are eligible for Periodic Review Board (PRB) review. A Yemeni citizen, Mustafa al Shamiri, was cleared for transfer this morning by the PRB board.

Thirty-two of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals have urged President Obama to submit a plan to Congress detailing actions the administration will take to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Signatories to the letter are members of a larger group of retired military leaders who have long advocated for closing Guantanamo. Many of them stood behind President Obama on his second day in office in 2009 as he signed the executive order to close Guantanamo within one year.

Human Rights First notes that PRB reviews should have been completed for every eligible detainee over 3 years ago. Detainees who are not cleared for transfer, or who will face prosecution, will likely need to be transferred to the United States in order to close Guantanamo.

In a recent Human Rights First poll conducted by Harris Interactive, two-thirds of Americans agreed that detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be sent to countries that have agreed to take them. The majority of Americans also agreed that the U.S. government can fight terrorism effectively without the Guantanamo detention center.

Human Rights First’s plan to close Guantanamo is outlined in its latest Blueprint: How to Close Guantanamo.

Press

Published on January 21, 2016

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