By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, D.C., United States of America– Guantanamo Bay has been highly criticized by human rights groups for imprisoning individuals for extended periods of time without being charged or given a trial. President Obama’s administration wants to close the detention center in Cuba, however the President’s plan has been thwarted by the difficulties of transferring the detainees.
The Senate Armed Services Committee recently wrapped up a defense bill on Thursday 22 May 2014. The bill would authorize the transfer of prisoners currently incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay to U.S soil for detention, trial, and incarceration. The bill is in accordance with last years National Defense Authorization Act that eased restrictions on transferring detainees to foreign countries and is another step towards closing the Guantanamo Bay facilities.
In an effort to close Guantanamo Bay, President Obama has been talking to several countries about relocating inmates. The U.S President recently spoke with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica about accepting six detainees. Uruguay agreed in March to take some inmates from Guantanamo Bay, in return, the United States was to free some Cuban prisoners. Uruguayan media reported that the detainees to be transferred were four Syrians and one Pakistani.
Under the current laws the Secretary of Defense must review all cases of detainees to be transferred and examine the procedures put in place to monitor the detainees so as to certify to Congress that they will not be at risk to return to the battlefield. United Stated Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, stated on Wednesday 28 May 2014 that he would soon make a decision regarding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay whom Uruguay has offered to accept. Defense officials said there was no timetable for Hagel to make the decision, and Hagel’s only indication as to the timeframe of his decision was his response that the decision would be made “fairly soon.”
Hagel responded to comments about his drawn-out decision by stating, “What I am doing is taking my time to assure that any decision I make is…by standards Congress gave me, that I in fact can notify and certify that this is the responsible thing to do.”
The decision to close Guantanamo Bay has been controversial due to the high security interest. Top Senate Republicans have vowed to do all they can to keep the facility open, or at the very least slow the process of transferring the detainees. Of the 166 men who were held in detention in May 2013 only 12 have ben transferred out of Guantanamo Bay in the past year.
Hagel has addressed the oppositions concerns to close the facility by stating that he has created a system whereby he will carefully examine the risk the detainees could potentially pose as well as measures put in place to mitigate those risks. However, Hagel acknowledged the risk in closing Guantanamo Bay when stating, “there is a risk in everything … I suspect I will never get a 100-percent deal.”
For More Information Please See:
ABC News – Obama Win on Guantanamo Prison May be Short-Lived– 30 May 2014.
Huffington Post – Time to Close Guantanamo — Not One More Day – 30 May 2014.
Reuters – Hagel to Make Decisions on Guantanamo Detainees ‘Fairly Soon’ – 30 May 2014.
Wall Street Journal – Hagel Reviewing Cases in Transfer of Six Detainees to Uruguay – 30 May 2014.