White House Meeting with Yemeni President Ends in Wasted Opportunity to Show Progress on Detainee Transfers
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today voiced disappointment that the meeting between President Obama and Yememi President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will not result in concrete progress toward the transfer of Yemeni detainees who have been cleared to leave the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The White House has said that no announcement about Yemeni transfers will come today and that each detainee will undergo a rigorous process before determining whether they can be transferred to Yemen. In a statement released today, Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn noted:
“Today’s meeting with President Hadi is a wasted opportunity to translate the president’s pledge to close Guantanamo into action. Fifty-six of the 86 detainees cleared for transfer by the defense and intelligence agencies are from Yemen, and there is no better stage to announce forward movement than with Presidents Obama and Hadi standing shoulder to shoulder. Moving forward, President Obama and President Hadi should work together to identify ways to quickly and safely transfer these men out of Guantanamo, a step that will put the administration closer to its goal of shuttering the facility.”
There are 166 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, including 86 who are already cleared by U.S. national security authorities for release or transfer to another country. Of those, 56 are Yemeni. According to Human Rights First, the discussion of Guantanamo transfers is particularly important now, since the administration announced last Friday that it will repatriate two Algerian detainees. President Obama also lifted his self-imposed ban on transfers from Guantanamo to Yemen as part of a comprehensive framework to restart efforts to close the prison. Members of Congress, including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have also encouraged the administration to take a new look at repatriating the Yemeni detainees.
For more information, please read Human Rights First’s plan Guantanamo: A Comprehensive Exit Strategy.