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Holder: Obama committed to closing Guantanamo

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday President Barack Obama [official websites] remains committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], despite political opposition. At the European Parliament in Brussels, Holder stated the administration's commitment to closing Guantanamo before the next presidential election [AP report]. Obama has faced criticism for not closing Guantanamo after issuing an executive order [text, PDF] in January 2009 directing that the military prison be closed [JURIST report] "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order." However, Congress blocked the executive order and barred the transfer of detainees to the US. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile] said at a congressional hearing in February that Guantanamo Bay is unlikely to be closed [JURIST report] because of security concerns.

There are 171 detainees remaining at Guantanamo. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed [JURIST report] the 2010 denial of petition for a writ of habeas corpus [Cornell LII backgrounder] for Guantanamo detainee Shawali Khan. In August, Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has filed an appeal [JURIST report] with the UN Human Rights Committee complaining of multiple violations of international law stemming from his five-year incarceration at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2007. In July, an EU official told the Miami Herald that Europe is still willing to resettle Guantanamo Bay detainees [JURIST report] despite Congress' efforts to prevent closure and transfers. In a display of commitment to a 2009 agreement [JURIST report] with the US, the EU reiterated that detainees would still be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

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