Rights groups concerned by potential delay in closing Guantanamo

[JURIST] Human rights groups are concerned about US President-elect Barack Obama's intentions to keep the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention center open for at least 100 days after taking office, according to a Monday report in the Miami Herald. On Sunday, Obama told ABC news in an interview [ABC transcript] that he would close the base but that doing so would be complicated [JURIST report]. American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] (ACLU) executive director Anthony Romero disagrees, saying [press release]:

While the next steps might be politically charged and require courage, they are not fundamentally complicated. Each detainee's case must be reviewed by the new Justice Department. If there is evidence of criminal conduct...detainees should be prosecuted in our traditional courts, which are the best in the world and fully capable of handling sensitive national security issues without compromising fundamental rights. If there is not, detainees should be repatriated to countries that don't practice torture.
The ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the Coalition to Stop the US of Child Soldiers also urged Obama in a joint letter [text, PDF] to halt the trial of Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] even if he feels that it is impossible to immediately close the Guantanamo Bay center. Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a US solider in 2002, when he was 15 years old.

The US has been in contact with numerous countries in an attempt to find safe havens for released detainees. Though Australia [JURIST report] has refused to accept released detainees, Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal [JURIST reports] have said they would consider accepting released detainees. The UN has urged more countries to accept released Guantanamo Bay detainees [JURIST report] so the military prison can be closed. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the Pentagon to draft a proposal for shutting down [JURIST report] the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for a possible order from Obama once he takes office.


 

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