Obama asked to shut Guantanamo and restore human rights record

By staff writers
November 8, 2012

Amnesty International USA will be urging second-term President Barack Obama to finally close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

On his second day in office in 2008, Obama ordered that Guantanamo should closed within one year. Today it remains open, with 166 detainees.

Writing on the NGO's blog, Zeke Johnson says that human rights violations have become the “new normal” there, at Bagram in Afghanistan and elsewhere, including indefinite detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings with drones and impunity for torture.

He writes: "President Obama must make good on his promise to close the prison."

He lays out ten concrete steps to put human rights commitments into action. These are:

1) Immediately recommit publicly to closing Guantanamo, recognise that international law applies to all US counterterrorism operations, and recognise that the right way to close Guantanamo is to ensure that detainees are either charged and fairly prosecuted in federal court, or released to countries that will respect their human rights.

2) Immediately release Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer to the United Kingdom unless he is to be charged with a crime and prosecuted fairly in federal court. He is on the Obama administration’s list of 55 detainees publicly cleared for transfer out of the prison; the UK government has repeatedly called for Shaker Aamer to be released to his wife and children in London; and the UK appears to meet the Congressional certification requirements in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act to transfer him there (see Section 1028 of the NDAA).

3) Take urgent steps to work with suitable countries to release the other detainees on the Administration’s list of 55 Guantanamo detainees who are publicly cleared for transfer out of the prison, including the three remaining Uighurs, unless they are to be charged and fairly prosecuted in federal court.

4) Work with Congress to ensure that the transfer restrictions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act are not renewed next year. The restrictions purport to bar transfers to the US for any reason, whether for trial or resettlement, and put impediments on transfers to other countries.

5) Abandon the unfair Guantanamo military commissions. Any Guantanamo detainees the government intends to prosecute should be tried fairly in US federal court, without recourse to the death penalty.

6) End indefinite detention. Ensure that all detainees are either charged and fairly tried in US federal court, or are released to countries that will respect their human rights.

7) End unlawful killings with drones. The choice should not be between unlawful killing and unlawful detention.

8) Work with Congress next year to repeal the detention provisions in the 2012 NDAA and repeal the 2009 Military Commissions Act.

9) Withdraw the Authorisation for Use of Military Force that has been used to justify human rights violations such as indefinite detention and unlawful drone killings in the name of “global war.”

10) Ensure accountability for torture, unlawful killings and other human rights violations as required by law, including full investigation, prosecutions where warranted, and ensure remedy and redress for victims.

Guantanamo has been a human rights tragedy for the United States and the world, Johnson declares.

* Amnesty USA: http://www.amnestyusa.org/


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