By Gabrielle Meury
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – The U.S. has released a report admitting that it has held as many as 12 juveniles at Guantanamo Bay. In May, the U.S. told the United Nations that it held only eight juveniles. Navy Commander Jeffrey Gordon said that the U.S. did not intentionally misrepresent the number of detainees. “As we noted to the committee, it remains uncertain the exact age of many of the juveniles held at Guantanamo, as most of them did not know their own date of birth or even the year in which they were born.”
The Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, based at the University of California, Davis, released a study last week that concluded that the U.S. has held at least a dozen juveniles at Guantanamo, including a Saudi who committed suicide in 2006. Almerindo Ojeda, director of the Center, stated, “The information I got was from their own sources, so they didn’t have to look beyond their own sources to figure this out,” said Almerindo Ojeda, director of the center at the University of California, Davis. According to the study, eight of the 12 juvenile detainees have been released.
Rights groups say it is important for the U.S. military to know the real age of those it detains because juveniles are entitled to special protection under international laws recognized by the United States.
Two of the remaining detainees are scheduled to face war-crimes trials in January. Canadian Omar Khadr, now 21, was captured in July 2002 and is charged with murder for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. special forces soldier. Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan who is about 24, faces attempted murder charges for a 2002 grenade attack that wounded two U.S. soldiers. The study identified the only other remaining juvenile as Muhammed Hamid al Qarani of Chad.The Saudi who hanged himself with two other detainees in 2006, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, was 17 when he arrived at Guantanamo.
For more information, please see:
USATODAY – U.S. confirms it held 12 juveniles at Guantanamo– 16 November 2008
Fox News – U.S. acknowledges it held 12 juveniles at Guantanamo– 16 November 2008
The Press Association – Dozen juveniles at Guantanamo Bay- 16 November 2008