Leaked Guantanamo Files Highlight Need for Fair Trials and Accountability, Says Amnesty International

Press Release
April 26, 2011

Leaked Guantanamo Files Highlight Need for Fair Trials and Accountability, Says Amnesty International

Amnesty International Media Release
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leaked Guantanamo Files Highlight Need for Fair Trials and Accountability, Says Amnesty International

Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International today renewed its call on U.S. authorities to release or give fair trials to remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees, after leaked files revealed fresh details about those held at the detention center.

"The files confirm what we have been saying all along about Guantanamo Bay - that many were detained for spurious reasons and held for years without access to the U.S. legal system," said Susan Lee, Americas director at Amnesty International. "The authorities must either try those that remain there - in U.S. civilian courts rather than military commissions - or set them free."

The vast majority of the nearly 800 men who have been held at Guantanamo have been released without charge. To date only five have been convicted by the military commission system and one has been tried by civilian court. None of those released without charge are known to have been provided with compensation or any other form of remedy by the U.S. authorities.

"Of hundreds of detainees who have been held unlawfully for years, fewer than 50 are likely to be charged eventually - yet the U.S. government hasn't provided remedy to anyone,” said Lee. “There has been no accountability on the part of the U.S. authorities for the abuses committed against these men.”

Guantanamo currently holds 172 detainees, although the U.S. authorities are only planning to try a small number.

“Many detainees who have been cleared for release continue to languish at Guantanamo,” said Tom Parker, policy director for terrorism and human rights at Amnesty International USA. “As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United States is obligated to provide an enforceable remedy to any individual unlawfully or arbitrarily detained. At the very least, this should include an apology, compensation and the punishment of those responsible for this outrageous conduct."

The Guantanamo Review Task Force established under President Barack Obama in 2009 recommended that 36 of those still held should be prosecuted by the United States.

It advised that 48 others should continue to be held without charge or trial, with the remainder transferred to countries other than the United States.

About half of the detainees still at Guantanamo are Yemeni nationals, of which 36 were approved for repatriation by the review task force with another 30 designated for possible future transfer, dependent on security conditions in Yemen.  

However, transfers to Yemen from Guantanamo were suspended in December 2009, with the exception of Mohammed al-Odaini’s repatriation in June 2010.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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