House passes bill allowing transfer of Guantanamo detainees to US for trial

House passes bill allowing transfer of Guantanamo detainees to US for trial

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] voted 307-114 [roll call vote] Thursday to approve legislation that would allow Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to be transferred to US soil for prosecution. The measure was part of a $42.7 billion spending bill [HR 2892 materials] for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website]. The legislation would forbid the release of Guantanamo detainees onto US soil and allows their transfer only for purposes of prosecution in federal courts and only after a thorough security assessment. The legislation also requires that Congress be provided with details before a detainee is transferred overseas. Republican lawmakers strongly opposed the measure, and attempted to send the bill back to committee, but that attempt was voted down 193-224 [roll call vote]. The bill will now go before the US Senate.

Members of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee [list, PDF] reached an agreement [JURIST report] last week to allow Guantanamo detainees to be transferred to the US for trial. The agreement came shortly after US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] told reporters that the Obama administration may miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials. Earlier this month, the House passed a non-binding motion [JURIST report] to instruct the conferees to prohibit the transfer of detainees to the US for prosecution or incarceration. The motion instructed House committee members to insist on such prohibitions during negotiations.