During his year-end press conference today, President Obama referred to an 'irreducible population’ at Guantánamo and referenced his forthcoming plan to close the detention facility, which reportedly calls for some detainees to be moved to the United States for indefinite detention. In response, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights program, issued the following statement:
"We welcome President Obama's commitment to transferring eligible detainees from Guantánamo but were disturbed by his remarks about moving remaining detainees to prisons in the United States.
"Relocating Guantánamo to the U.S mainland would entrench, not fix, the problem of indefinite detention. Moving detainees to the U.S. would merely change Guantánamo’s zip code.
"At a time of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment, bringing indefinite detention to the U.S. mainland would risk opening a Pandora’s Box. It’s all too easy to imagine the next administration seizing on the precedent, and using prejudice and fear to justify long-term national security detention in the U.S. mainland.
"Guantánamo has been a blight on the nation's human rights record for 14 years. It won't be easy to remove, but President Obama must close Guantanamo in a way that respects human rights. His human rights legacy depends on it."
"Detainees who cannot be transferred must be tried in federal court or released. Military commissions do not meet international fair trial standards and are not a viable alternative to civilian court. 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.”