[JURIST] Human rights experts from the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) [official website] joined in sending an open letter [text, PDF] Monday urging the US government to shut down the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay on its fourteenth anniversary. The letter mentioned the recent steps by the Obama administration [official website] to close the facility, but noted that 104 prisoners still remain at Guantanamo without trial outside the reach of US law. The letter urged that those responsible for mistreatment of detainees be held accountable and for the US to end impunity for violations of international humanitarian law in the “war-on-terror” as several organizations have decried the facility at Guantanamo as an arbitrary detention facility. The letter also called on the US to provide access to redress for those who have been and are currently detained.
The Obama administration has promised to close Guantanamo but has struggled due to Congressional opposition to relocating detainees to the US, as well as the slow process of transferring prisoners to other countries. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told Fox News Sunday that President Barack Obama intends to fulfill [JURIST report] his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility before leaving office. This month there have been multiple detainees released from Guantanamo, with 13 more detainees on the schedule for release this month [JURIST report]. In November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) [text, PDF], which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it could 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. The Guantanamo Review Task Force (GRTF) was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [text, PDF] to review the status of all detainees. In September White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Obama was considering a “wide array” of options [JURIST report] for closing the prison.