Unlawful Detention at Guantanamo

Unlawful Detention at Guantanamo

On January 22, 2009 President Obama signed an executive order committing the US administration to resolving the cases of the detainees held at Guantánamo "as promptly as possible", and to closing the detention facility "no later than one year from the date of this order".

However 166 men are currently detained at Guantánamo (correct as of January 2013). A few have been convicted by military commission, and some others have been charged for trial by military commission, under a system that does not meet international fair trial standards. The majority have been held without charge or trial for more than nine years. The Guantánamo Review Task Force recommended in its final January 2010 report that:

  • 36 detainees be prosecuted by the USA, either in federal court, or in military commissions;
  • 48 others continue to be held without charge or trial under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a broad resolution passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001; and that
  • the remainder be transferred out of Guantánamo, either immediately or eventually, depending on third country solutions being found for those who could not be returned to their own countries and/or, in the case of detainees from Yemen, the administration's moratorium on the repatriation of Yemeni detainees being lifted.

The US authorities continue to refuse to allow any detainee into the USA. Thus the USA, the country that bears primary responsibility for the Guantánamo detentions, has refused even to do what it has sought from other governments -- to accept those detainees "approved for transfer" who cannot be sent to their home countries because they would face human rights violations there.

The US administration continues to pursue trials by military commission in proceedings that do not meet international fair trial standards. In some of these cases, the US administration is seeking the death penalty. To date, only one Guantánamo detainee has been transferred to the US mainland for trial in a civilian court.

Amnesty International considers that the detainees held at Guantánamo should be released if they are not charged with recognizably criminal offences and brought to trial in proceedings that comply with international fair trial standards. The organization considers that trials should take place in the US federal courts, under a fully functioning judicial system which has been available from day one of the detentions, not before an essentially untested military commission system that does not meet international fair trial standards. As an abolitionist organization, Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in any and all cases, unconditionally. In addition it points out that the imposition of the death penalty after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards constitutes a violation of the right to life under international law.