As long as Guantanamo remains open, US credibility in human rights will be undermined

It is the symbol of lawlessness and of suspension of human rights. Of the excesses of the United States after 9/11. Known to world public opinion due to the systematic violations of Geneva Conventions. For the mistreatment of prisoners and the detention of suspects for two decades mostly without charge.

January 11, 2022 marks the twenty years since the first inmates were sent to Guantanamo Bay, a detention center located in the US naval base in the southeast of Cuba. The camp has housed nearly 800 men since it was established during the administration’s World War on Terror George W. Bush. A place born four months after 11 September 2001 to hold the members of the organization of Al-Qaeda and the suspected accomplices of the perpetrators of the attacks. Prisoners believed to be linked to terrorist activities, captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including through extraordinary rendition.

Many detainees, mostly Muslim men, have been held for years without charges, trials or basic legal rights. Some of them they were tortured in the Black Sites, the secret prisons of the CIA, before their transfer to Guantánamo. Subjected to inhuman and humiliating abuse including the waterboarding and sleep deprivation, used by agents to extract information and confessions from terror suspects. Men who are now living with chronic health and psychological problems; with post-traumatic stress disorder. These methods used in Guantánamo quickly became a critical issue for Washington, accused of illegal detention.

Today 39 men remained on the site but have not yet received a fair trial and continue to be detained indefinitely, in violation of due legal process. The trial of the five accused of direct participation in the 9/11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has not even begun.

The majority of Guantánamo’s ex-detainees were repatriated to their countries of origin, and around twenty percent ended up elsewhere: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Slovakia and Albania were among the major countries to welcome them. But many remain in legal limbo, vulnerable to expulsion, unable to work or reunite with their families. How will the men still in detention be handled or where will they be housed? The United States in moving the detainees out of Guantánamo must find agreements that guarantee a humane treatment from their countries of origin. Otherwise, make a third country agree to resettle them.

Joe Biden he was vice president when Barack Obama ordered the closure of Guantánamo in January 2009 to try the prisoners in civil courts, but the decision was later suspended. President Biden could now shut it down, fulfilling his campaign promise, accomplishing what other administrations had tried to do. For now, however, there does not seem to be much progress and indeed, as reported by the New York Times, will be expanded with a new $ 4 million courtroom to be built this year it will exclude the public from the room. The latest move towards secrecy in this detention operation in which the public could already see very little.

Human rights organizations are calling for effective action by Joe Biden and immediate closure. “The military commissions set up to try the Guantánamo detainees did not guarantee the defendants the right to due process and they did not provide justice to the victims and survivors of the September 11, 2001 attacks, ”said Amnesty International, urging the US president to deliver on his pledge to shut down Guantánamo once and for all. Because “the longer that prison remains open, the longer the global credibility of the United States in the field of human rights will be compromised”.

It is therefore necessary to renew some urgency on this issue. Take a step towards finding solutions for all remaining detainees in Guantánamo so that this place, a symbol of torture and injustices, may close and may also end this chapter of the war on terror consummated in the name of democracy.

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