Testimony before the U.S. Senate on July 24, 2013: Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications

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Testimony before the U.S. Senate on July 24, 2013: Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications

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  • Ensure justice and security with human rights: Those responsible for the attacks in the USA on September 11th, 2001, attacks that deliberately targeted civilians and which Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned as a crime against humanity, should be brought to justice through fair criminal trials without recourse to the death penalty, as should anyone responsible for carrying out or planning further such attacks. This is a realistic aim that can and should be achieved through cooperation between states in accordance with their international obligations.

  • Address the Guantánamo detentions as a human rights issue. The detentions must be resolved and the detention facility closed in a way that full complies with international human rights law. Specifically:
    • Pending resolution of the detentions, and without delaying that goal in any way, there should be an immediate detailed review of conditions of detention and of policies implemented in response to the hunger strike, including assessing cell-search, force-feeding and comfort item policies, facilitating continuing access for legal representatives to detainees, allowing full access to independent medical professionals, UN experts, and human rights organizations, and ensuring all policies comply with international human rights law and standards and medical ethics.

    • Expedite safe detainee transfers: Dozens of the Guantánamo detainees have long been “approved for transfer” by the US authorities. Particularly now that President Obama has lifted the moratorium on repatriation of Yemeni nationals, as the Chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee had recently urged, the administration and Congress should bring about lawful and safe detainee transfers as a matter of priority. The USA should not place any conditions on transfers of detainees that would, if imposed by the receiving government, violate international human rights law and standards.

    • Charge and try in civilian courts: Detainees who are to be prosecuted should be charged and tried without further delay in ordinary federal civilian court, without recourse to the death penalty. Any detainees who are not to be charged and tried should be immediately released.

  • Immediately drop the “global war” framework. The message sent by the USA’s global war framework is that a government can ignore or jettison its human rights obligations and replace them with rules of its own whenever it decides that the circumstances warrant it. Under its global war framework, the USA has at times resorted to enforced disappearance, torture, secret detainee transfers, indefinite detention, and unfair trials, as well as a lethal force policy that plays fast and loose with the concept of “imminence” and appears to permit extrajudicial executions. At the same time, truth, accountability and remedy have been sacrificed. Congress and the administration should commit to a framework for US counter-terrorism strategy – from detentions to the use of force – that fully complies with international human rights law and standards. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force should be repealed.

  • Ensure necessary investigations. Ensure prompt, thorough, independent, effective and impartial investigations into all credible allegations of human rights violations, with the methodology and findings of such investigations made public.

  • Ensure full accountability. Ensure that anyone responsible for crimes under international law, including torture and enforced disappearance, committed in the post-9/11 counter-terrorism context is brought to justice, regardless of their level of office or former level of office.

  • Guarantee access to remedy. Ensure that all victims of US human rights violations are recognized, and have genuine access to meaningful remedy, as required under international law.