[JURIST] The US has been unable to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] because it has been stymied by legal and practical questions about what to do with the center's detainees, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates [official profile] said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing [recorded video] Tuesday. Gates said that the US has not found a way to handle detainees who will not be charged under the military tribunal system but who cannot be released for security reasons, partly because most US jurisdictions are reluctant to take on the accused terrorists. Gates also said that there are approximately 70 detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be returned to their home countries, either because those countries refuse to accept them or because of concerns that the detainees may pose a threat to the US if released [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.
Numerous international groups and rights activists have called for the closure of the Guantanamo detention center [JURIST news archive]. In February, the leaders of 34 international bar associations and law societies sent a letter [PDF text] to US President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging the "immediate closure" of the facility [JURIST report]. Last October, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin called on the US to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects [JURIST report] detained at Guantanamo Bay so that the US can close the detention center. Bush himself said in August 2007 that he wants to shut down [JURIST report] the detention facility, but indicated that other countries have shown reluctance to accept detainees.