[JURIST] Six more detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay [press release], the US Defense Department said Thursday. According to the DOD announcement [press release], five detainees were transferred to Afghanistan and one was transferred to Bahrain [Reuters report; BNA report]. Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said that Issa al-Murbati's release means that all Bahraini Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees have now been repatriated. AFP has more.
The Bush Administration has been facing growing pressure [JURIST report] to close detention facilities at Guantanamo. Approximately 80 of the 360 remaining detainees have been deemed eligible for release or transfer. US President George W. Bush said Thursday that he still wants to shut down the detention facility, but that other countries have shown reluctance to accept detainees. In a press conference [transcript], Bush said:
I did say it should be a goal of the nation to shut down Guantanamo. I also made it clear that part of the delay was the reluctance of some nations to take back some of the people being held there. In other words, in order to make it work, we've got to have a place for these people to go. … I don't know if you noticed a resolution of the Senate the other day, where all but three senators said we don't want these prisoners in the country…. In other words, part of the issue, Peter, is the practical issue of, what do we do with the people. And you say nothing has taken place. I strongly disagree with that. First of all, we are working with other nations to send folks back. Again, it's a fairly steep order. A lot of people don't want killers in their midst, and a lot of these people are killers.
Secondly, of course, we want to make sure that when we do send them back, they're treated as humanely as possible. The other issue was whether or not we can get people to be tried. One of the things I'm anxious about, want to see happen, is that there to be trials. Courts have been involved with deciding how to do this, and Defense is trying to work out mechanisms to get the trials up and running. And the sooner we can get that up and running, the better it is, as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to make any predictions about whether Guantanamo will be available or not. I'm just telling you it's a very complicated subject.
And I laid out an aspiration. Whether or not we can achieve that or not, we'll try to. But it is not as easy a subject as some may think on the surface.
Reuters has more.