In continuing with our short series about different human rights issues, issues that our chapter might take up in the future, we are today covering indefinite detention, military commissions, and Guantanamo. All three of these constitute one big human rights issue that has yet to be resolved in this country. President Obama has promised to close Guantanamo, yet continues to sign the National Defense Authorization Action, which comes with the provisions that make closing the prison and ending indefinite detention for the prisoners that much more difficult. What’s Amnesty International doing about this?
Obviously, these issues violate the right to a fair trial and the right to be free from arbitrary detention. As of today, 166 men are still held at Guantanamo, most of them without charge. Fifty-six of those have been cleared for transfer out of the facility. Over the 11 years of Guantanamo Bay’s existence, nearly 800 men have been held at the base. Only one has been transferred to the US for trial in federal court. From our sources, it looks like no detainee has been released without charge.
Amnesty International has offered several recommendations as to what Congress should do, and they are listed below. Our chapter has not yet decided on what we are going to do on this issue. The national organization also doesn’t have any current online actions or petitions to sign at this time.
- Congress must not renew the restriction on the use of appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the mainland United States, whether for fair trial or release, passed in Section 1027 of the 2013 NDAA.
- Congress must not renew the conditions of transfer of Guantanamo detainees to other countries passed in Section 1028 of the 2013 NDAA.
- Congress must repeal the indefinite military detention provisions passed in sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 NDAA.
- Congress must ensure that the Guantanamo detention facility is closed by ensuring that all detainees are either charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released to countries that will respect their human rights.
- Congress must oppose any legislation that would keep Guantanamo open or continue indefinite detention or military commissions for any person.
- Congress must ensure that any legislation on counterterrorism detentions meets US obligations under international human rights law and does not discriminate on the basis of citizenship.