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The New York Times reported on Wednesday evening that U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently notified Congress that he has approved the transfer of 17 Guantánamo Bay detainees. In response, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights program, issued the following statement:

"The transfer of 17 detainees from Guantánamo would be a leap forward, considering the snail’s pace of past transfers. It would also signal that President Obama is serious about closing Guantánamo on his watch, which is crucial since the next administration may try to keep it open indefinitely.

“Guantánamo has been a blight on the country’s human rights record for nearly fourteen years, and this push to close it is long overdue. We're encouraged by the latest news and strongly urge the administration to move ahead with the transfer of all eligible detainees, without delay.

“Congressional opposition to closing Guantanamo is partly based on plans to relocate detainees to the United States for indefinite detention – plans that the administration should abandon. That would merely change Guantánamo’s zip code.

“Eligible detainees should be transferred and those that remain should either be prosecuted in federal court or released. Additionally, the Justice Department should commit to reopening and expanding investigations into torture and other human rights violations suffered by detainees, and prosecuting those responsible where there is sufficient evidence.”