House panel approves defense spending bill that blocks Guantanamo closure

House panel approves defense spending bill that blocks Guantanamo closure

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[JURIST] The House Armed Services Committee [official website] on Thursday approved the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [HR 1960, PDF], which would keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] open despite President Barack Obama’s renewed statements that he will close it. According to the official summary [text, PDF], “While the NDAA mandates the designation of a senior [Defense Department] official to facilitate the safe transfer of detainees overseas, the NDAA also maintains the bi-partisan prohibition against transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.” The bill allocates over 200 million dollars to restore dilapidated facilities, as well as improve staff facilities. The bill also includes efforts to address the sexual assault crisis in the military [JURIST news archive], as well as a plethora of other defense initiatives ranging from retirement compensation to funding for drones.

Last month Obama renewed his pledge to make an effort to close the detention center [JURIST report]. Also in May JURIST Guest Columnist David Frakt of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law argued that the Obama administration should release those detainees [JURIST op-ed] held at Guantanamo Bay who have already been declared to not be a danger to the US. In April UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for US authorities to close down the Guantanamo prison camp [JURIST report], emphasizing the continued indefinite incarcerations of many detainees as a clear violation of international law.