[JURIST] A group of US senators on Tuesday proposed legislation [text, PDF] that would place a moratorium on the releases or transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Richard Burr touted [press release] the new bill as the best course of action to protect US national security. The act, titled “The Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act of 2015,” would halt all releases of Guantanamo detainees with high or medium risk ratings, issue more prohibitions ontransfers and provide more transparency on how detainees’ risk levels are determined. Ayotte stated,”[i]t’s clear that we need a ‘time out’ so that we do not re-confront the terrorists that we had captured and are currently in Guantanamo.” The new legislation will place pressure on the White House as the Obama administration released [Reutersreport] 28 prisoners from Guantanamo in 2014.
The acceleration of the closure of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] is a part of the administration’s attempt to fulfill campaign promises made by President Barack Obama in 2008, despite restrictions in the latest defense spending bill [JURIST report]. Last month the Department of Defense announced the repatriation [JURIST report] of four Guantanamo detainees to Afghanistan. Earlier in December the Pentagon announced the transfer [JURIST report] of six detainees to Uruguay. This move was the result of a 2009 Executive Order issued by Obama instructing the Guantanamo Bay Review Force to review these cases. In November five detainees were released [JURIST report] to their respective home countries of Georgia and Slovakia. Also in November the Pentagon announced the the release [JURIST report] of Fouzi Khalid Abdullah Al Awda from the detention facilities after nearly 13 years of imprisonment without a trial. In June the final known US prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl was released into US custody [JURIST report] in exchange for five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.