[JURIST] Guantanamo Bay prisoner Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz was released from detention and sent back to his home country of Mauritania, the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced [press release] on Thursday. The Guantanamo Review Task Force, created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [Executive Order 13492, PDF] to review the status of all detainees, unanimously approved Aziz for transfer. Mauritania ensured that Aziz’s return was completed with proper security measures and humane treatment. This transfer is a further step in the ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo prison. Most recently, the DOD announced they are sending teams to review three Colorado prisons [JURIST report] as possible alternatives to Guantanamo detention facility.
The Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST backgrounder] was set up in 2002 by the Bush administration as a facility to hold the most dangerous war criminals. At its peak in 2003, the prison had a population of 684 inmates. When Obama took office in 2008, one of his first directives was to close the facility, but he has faced considerable opposition in achieving that goal. Obama has given many reasons for wanting to close the prison, chief among them being the plethora of human rights accusations it has spawned. Earlier this month the US released [JURIST report] a former Guantanamo detainee to Morocco, but a lawyer for Younous Chekkouri reports that upon arrival he was arrested and is now facing “baseless charges” of terrorism and is being held in provisional detention. The day before, former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Djamel Ameziane filed a petition [JURIST report] with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking reparations from the US government for human rights violations he alleges that he endured while in custody. In September federal judge Gladys Kessler ordered the release of eight redacted videos showing forced feedings at Guantanamo Bay prison, and earlier this week the same judge reinforced the order [JURIST reports] for the video release.