The Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] approved [press release] a measure that would permit detainees at Guantanamo Bay to plead guilty for their crimes through video conferencing, and would also allow the transfer of detainees to third-world countries to reduce the population of the prison. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA) [summary] was approved on Thursday. The provision was included in the hopes of increasing transparency in the transfer and detention of detainees while also increasing military efficiency. The NDAA still prohibits funding to close Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. The bill does permit the transfer of detainees to the US, but only for urgent medical care.
The bill will be examined carefully, but faces a difficult path to enactment. Another provision included in the legislation is the requirement for women to register for the draft [Reuters report], which could kill passage of the bill. However, the dramatic effect this legislation would have on the president’s power to close Guantanamo could also stymie passage. The US Department of Defense (DOD) announced [JURIST report] the transfer of nine Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainees to Saudi Arabia in April as they continue their efforts to close the facility. Earlier in April the DOD announced the transfer [JURIST report] of two Guantanamo detainees to Senegal. In February US President Barack Obama delivered a plan to Congress to close Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report]. In November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US.