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11th January 2016, 11:44:46 UTC

The US Congress’ obstruction to shutting the detention center at Guantánamo Bay risks placing the US alongside countries who consistently disregard internationally agreed standards of justice and human rights, said Amnesty International ahead of the 14th anniversary of the first transfers to the detention center.

“Guantánamo remains open because politicians are exploiting the public’s genuine fear of terror attacks. Instead of identifying effective and legal measures to prevent attacks, members of US Congress are busy playing politics with the lives of dozens of men who could die behind bars without ever facing a trial,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director with Amnesty International Ireland.

“Guantánamo has become an international symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial. Closing Guantánamo doesn’t just mean moving prisoners to another detention site and turning out the lights at the prison. It means ending these practices altogether and providing accountability for past abuses.”

There are currently 104 detainees held in the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba – 45 of whom have been cleared for transfer yet remain behind bars.

Guantánamo has become an international symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland

When President Barack Obama came to power in January 2009, he signed an executive order for the closure of the infamous detention center within a year. Seven years later, Guantánamo is still open. The Obama administration has hinted at a plan to close the detention camp by moving some detainees into the United States for continued indefinite detention.

“President Obama’s proposal to move some detainees for indefinite detention in the US is not a solution. It would simply relocate the problem, and continue the same pattern of human rights abuses. It would also set a dangerous precedent that could be exploited by future administrations. President Obama must end, not relocate, indefinite detention without charge,” said Colm O’Gorman.

“The population at Guantánamo can be substantially reduced by transferring the dozens of detainees who have already been approved for transfer. The Pentagon should have clear orders from the president to push on with transfers to other countries that are deemed safe.”

“Detainees who cannot be transferred should be charged in federal court or released and investigations should be expanded into reports of torture and other human rights violations suffered by detainees.”

“President Obama has just one year left in office to make good on his commitment to close Guantánamo. His human rights legacy, and the reputation of the United States, are on the line. It won’t be easy, but President Obama can and must finally deliver on his seven year old promise.”