Human Rights First Welcomes Obama Administration Efforts to Find Guantanamo Solution
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First supports reported Obama Administration negotiations with the Yemeni government to build a rehabilitation facility for the Yemeni detainees cleared for transfer held at Guantanamo Bay.
“A rehabilitation facility in Yemen could provide the path home for more than fifty percent of the Guantanamo population,” said Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn.
Currently, 88 out the 164 detainees at Guantanamo Bay are Yemeni. Of those, 26 have been cleared for transfer with appropriate security assurances; an additional 30 are cleared for conditional transfer, meaning they could be transferred after the first set returns. There are an additional 26 Yemenis who have not been charged with a crime or cleared for transfer, but a new Periodic Review Board comprised of representatives from the national security agencies is set to review their cases to determine if they no longer pose a significant national security threat and could be cleared for transfer.
The report today of talks held in Rome to discuss funding for construction, training guards, and other staff reflects a significant push by the Obama Administration to find solutions to the Guantanamo detention center ahead of an expected debate in the Senate in the next two weeks over Guantanamo-related amendments to the Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“By supporting the Senate defense bill as currently written, Congress has an opportunity to clear a path forward for the repatriation and resettlement of Guantanamo detainees cleared for transfer that balances our legal obligations to transfer law of war detainees at the end of combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014 with our security interests,” said Osburn. “The current defense bill passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee authorizes the Secretary of Defense to order transfers after making a thorough assessment of security factors to mitigate the risk of transfer.”
Human Rights First cautions that the rehabilitation facility should not be a forward-looking administrative detention center. “Guantanamo has shown that ignoring the laws of war and ignoring the due process required under international and domestic law cures nothing, breeds contempt, and spurs terrorist recruiting. Any new facility in Yemen must be seen by the Yemenis and the world as a legitimate rehabilitation center that allows the men held at Guantanamo the opportunity to reclaim their lives, and rejoin their communities and families,” concluded Osburn.