The first of 17 detainees are scheduled to be released from the Guantanamo Bay prison next week, said a senior US official [CNN report] on Monday. There will be 90 detainees remaining, 59 of whom are ineligible to be transferred to another country. The official said three of the 59 will go before a review board in January to reassess whether they may be approved for transfer. Transfers cannot be approved unless officials believe the detainees will not return to terrorism upon release, and a host country must be willing to take them. The Obama administration has promised to close Guantanamo but has struggled due to Congress’s opposition to relocating detainees to the US, as well as slowing the process of transferring prisoners to other countries.
In November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) [text, PDF], which prohibits Guantanamo Bay detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it will delay his plan to close the prison. The NDAA comes after the Department of Defense said [JURIST report] they were sending teams to review three Colorado prisons as part of Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in October. In October the last British detainee at Guantanamo Bay was released [JURIST report] after extensive review by the Guantanamo Review Task Force (GRTF). The GRTF was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [text, PDF] to review the status of all detainees. Also in October another Guantanamo Bay detainee was released and sent back [JURIST report] to his home country of Mauritania. In September White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama was considering a “wide array” of options [JURIST report] for closing the prison.